Heavy rain in Santa Clarita
Heavy rain in Santa Clarita. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A winter storm warning was in effect Friday morning for Los Angeles County for a system that dropped several inches of rain in several parts of the Southland, sparked mudslides in Orange County’s Silverado Canyon and was blamed for at least 50 rain-related accidents on area freeways.

According to the National Weather Service, nearly 3 inches of rain fell in East Pasadena and about 2 inches in Culver City over the past three days. Bel Air, Woodland Hills and La Canada Flintridge each received more than 1.5 inches of rain and more than 1.25 inches fell in downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Burbank and Northridge over the same period.

A winter storm warning was in effect until 3 p.m. Friday, with 1 to 3 feet of snow potentially accumulating at elevations above 6,000 feet, along with winds gusting up to 55 mph.

A flash flood watch for the Los Angeles County burn areas was allowed to expire about 4:45 a.m., but there remained a chance of showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms through Friday afternoon before the storm clears out this evening, the weather service said.

About 11:20 p.m Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted “50+ crashes on LA freeways? Our partners over at the CHP are in for a long night. Please SLOW DOWN.”

Multiple mudslides near the Silverado Canyon burn areas covered a road out of the canyon, keeping at least two television news crews from being able to leave the area.

The slide along Silverado Canyon Road, near Sycamore Drive and Rancho Way, and close to the Silverado and Bond fire burn scars, was first reported about 11 p.m. Thursday by Fox 11.

Mud covered the road about a mile from the Orange County Fire Authority station in the canyon about 11:40 p.m., NBC4 reported. A news van from the station was unable to leave until crews using bulldozers cleared the roadway.

Fox11 reporter Bill Melugin tweeted about 11:45 p.m., “We are currently trapped, but perfectly fine. Roads are impassible from multiple mudflows. Bulldozers on scene trying to clear it. Residents out in streets concerned about stability of other hills near their homes.”

Orange County sheriff’s deputies are on scene and at least one home was evacuated, Fox 11 reported.

A flash flood watch will be in effect for most of Orange County through 4 p.m. Friday. Forecasters said heavy rain was expected Friday morning and included a chance of thunderstorms and rain rates topping a half-inch per hour.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday morning issued voluntary evacuation warnings for residents in Silverado, Williams and Modjeska canyons, noting the potential for “heavy rain, subsequent flooding and debris flows” in the recent Bond Fire burn area.

The areas under an evacuation warning are “remote” with “one way in and one way out,” so authorities are concerned about traffic jams at the last minute and “impassible” roads, which would mean “essentially you’re stuck,” department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.

The evacuation warnings affect 2,000 to 3,000 Orange County residents, Braun said.

Santiago Canyon road was opened only to residents east of the 241/261 interchange, and north of Ridgeline Road.

The Red Cross opened a “temporary evacuation point” at El Modena High School, 3920 E. Spring St. in Orange, to offer resources to evacuees, such as snacks and information on available hotels and lodging. The evacuation point will not be operated as a shelter.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Paul Holaday said the agency has all of its swiftwater units, a strike team, three bulldozers and an extra rescue helicopter ready for the storm.

Forecasters said the “atmospheric river event” had already dropped nearly 14 inches of rain in some parts of San Luis Obispo County throughout Wednesday and Thursday and Los Angeles County could see 1.5 to 3.5 inches of rain, with 2 to 5 inches possible in the foothills and mountains.

“On Friday, numerous showers, mountain snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms can be expected as a cold upper-level low pressure system affects the region,” according to the NWS. “Dry weather will prevail Saturday through Monday as high pressure builds in over the region.”

Los Angeles County health officials have issued a cold weather alert through Saturday for the mountains and Antelope Valley.

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