Rain in Southern California. Photo via OnScene.TV.
Rain in Southern California. Photo via OnScene.TV.

A slow-moving storm dumped rain on the Southland Wednesday, prompting evacuation orders amid fears of mud and debris slides near recent hillside burn areas.

The storm, billed as something of a meteorological double-whammy combining a strong Eastern Pacific weather system and an “atmospheric river” consisting of a subtropical plume of moisture, was predicted to be the biggest to hit the region this rainy season.

The weather system produced some showers in Los Angeles County Tuesday afternoon, but the slower-than-expected pace of the storm delayed the heaviest rain until Wednesday.

By midday Wednesday, rain had already soaked much of the metro area, with low clouds and fog dramatically reducing visibility across the area.

Crashes were reported on area freeways and road and a large tree fell on a residential street in Studio City, but no one was injured.

Officials advised people who reside in the areas affected by the La Tuna Canyon, Creek and Skirball fires to prepare for evacuations and street closures, but late Wednesday afternoon, evacuation orders that had been scheduled to take effect at 6 p.m. in the Kagel Canyon, Lopez Canyon and Little Tujunga Canyon areas were canceled due to an updated forecast.

Mandatory evacuations did go into effect at 6 p.m. for La Tuna Canyon Road from the 8300 to the 9000 blocks and the road was closed from the 8300 block to the Foothill (210) Freeway, authorities said.

Voluntary evacuations went into effect for the stretch of La Tuna Canyon Road from the 9000 block to Sunland Boulevard and in an area bordered by Day Street to the north, Plainview Avenue to the east and Sherman Grove Avenue to the west.

All areas are being closely monitored by officials, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said at late morning news conference.

The storm was forecast to produce 1 to 3 inches of rain in Los Angeles County coastal and valley areas and between 2 and 5 inches in the mountains, said National Weather Service meteorologist Curt Kaplan.

Rainfall expectations for Los Angeles County have been scaled down slightly since Tuesday, but Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are still expected to receive 2 to 5 inches of rain in coastal and valley areas and between 5 and 10 inches across the foothills and coastal slopes, Kaplan said.

A flash flood watch will be in effect from Wednesday night through late Thursday night not only in burn areas of Los Angeles County but also in urban areas. It will be in effect in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains; the San Gabriel, San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys; Los Angeles, including the coast, metropolitan Los Angeles, downtown, and the Hollywood Hills; and both coastal and inland Orange County.

“In addition to the flash flooding and mud and debris flow risk in recent burn areas, there will be other flooding threats in non-burn areas due to the long duration and intensity of this storm,” according to an NWS statement.

“Widespread urban roadway flooding is possible as well as rockslides and mudslides, especially near canyon roadways. As a result, there could be significant travel delays and road closures across the region between Tuesday and Thursday night.”

The rain likely will stop late Thursday or early Friday, according to the NWS.

According to the NWS, rainfall rates up to six-tenths of an inch per hour are possible late Wednesday night, possibly increasing to three-quarters of an inch per hour or higher at times Thursday. “Isolated rainfall rates as high as one inch per hour cannot be ruled out,” it added.

“Rainfall of this intensity can produce dangerous mud and debris flows near recent burn areas,” forecasters said. “Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.

“Southern California residents in or below the recently burned areas are urged to take the steps necessary to protect their property. Persons in the watch area should remain alert and follow directions of emergency preparedness officials,” according to the NWS.

Duarte went into a “yellow alert” status at noon for areas below the 2016 Fish Fire burn area. The alert calls for residents to move vehicles, trash bins and other large items out of streets to keep them clear for emergency crews and prevent items from being washed away.

The city also planned to close Mel Canyon Road to through-traffic below the burn area beginning at 6 p.m. but the closure was postponed until Thursday, according to the watch commander at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Temple Station.

Duarte officials were distributing filled sandbags to residents at the corner of Brookridge Road and Opal Canyon Wednesday.

An evacuation shelter was open at the Sylmar Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Ave. and the Sun Valley Recreation Center. 8133 Vineland Avenue.

A shelter at the Westwood Recreation Center at 1350 Sepulveda Blvd. was available for residents who choose to evacuate from the Skirball Fire burn area.

Large animals may be taken to a temporary animal shelter at the Equestrian Park at the Hansen Dam, 11127 Orcas Ave Lake View Terrace. The number is (818) 896-6514.

Dogs, cats and small pets can be taken to the Sylmar Recreation Center at 13109 Borden Ave. in Sylmar or the Los Angeles County Animal Care Center at 31044 Charlie Canyon Road in Castaic.

Residents can call a Joint Information Center at (323) 957-4594 for around the clock updated information on evacuations.

“We need to continue to be very proactive in making sure that we continue to do all that we can to protect private property and life,” Rodriguez said.

Free sandbags are available at local fire stations throughout the county. Instructions on how to fill them can be found at www.fire.lacounty.gov.

The city of Burbank, meanwhile, postponed until Thursday at 6 a.m. a voluntary evacuation order that was to take effect at 8 p.m. Once in effect, the order was expected to last through 6 p.m. Thursday for the following streets in danger of flooding and mud flows due to the recent La Tuna Fire:

— Country Club Drive east of Via Montana;

— all of Hamline Place; and

— Groton Drive east of Kenneth.

An evacuation center was established at Verdugo Recreation Center at 3201 W. Verdugo Ave. The center will not accommodate animals.

No-parking restrictions were in effect on:

— Country Club Drive east of Via Montana;

— all of Hamline Place; and

— Groton Drive east of Kenneth.

All of Burbank’s hiking trails have been closed, along with the Stough Canyon Nature Center and Wildwood Canyon recreation area, until further notice.


–City News Service

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