Storm brings flash flood warnings, potential debris flows

The heavy storm that pelted northern California with rain and snow hit Southland on Thursday, where wet, wintry weather is likely to continue well into the holiday weekend.

The storm excited the trip and created icy danger in the north when Tuolumne County officials issued an evacuation warning Thursday after cracks were reported in the Twain Harte Lake Dam.

Southern California was also nervous when the storm hit and threatened to cause flash floods and debris flows in several areas, including near streams, rivers and scars from wildfire.

Orange County authorities issued a mandatory evacuation warning for residents near the Bond fire zone, which will remain in effect until Friday noon, while residents near the Alisal, Santa Barbara County fire scar have been urged to seek shelter Prepare place.

Flood Watches also apply to parts of San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange until Friday morning.

The warnings come about a week after another major storm swept the area, sucking vehicles into the Los Angeles River, knocking over trees and prompting rescues for residents trapped in Silverado Canyon by mudslides.

Officials said fire areas near the Alisal, Bond and El Dorado fires are particularly vulnerable to the incoming system.

“Debris flows could occur near the burn scars – we definitely have concerns about this given the expected rate of rainfall,” said Dan Gregoria, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. “Outside of these areas, however, heavy rainfall can lead to flash floods really anywhere.”

Monrovia Canyon Park, near the Bobcat Burn Scar, which was littered with rocks and mud during the last storm, has been closed indefinitely due to possible further debris flows.

A street vendor sells umbrellas on a rainy Thursday night in downtown Los Angeles.

(Lusi Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

And in a tragic reference to the dangers of flash floods, officials said two bodies were recovered Thursday from a vehicle trapped in stagnant water under an overpass in Millbrae.

Det. Javier Acosta of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said at least two cars were trapped in the water he believed to be at least ten feet. It took several hours for officers to drain the area and locate the victims, who were identified as adults only.

In Los Angeles there was sporadic rain on Thursday morning, and a steady downpour had developed by the afternoon.

Some models also indicated thunderstorms developing over San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Thursday afternoon or Friday.

Through Sunday, “inconsistent weather” will prevail across the region as the storm creeps across the area, officials said. The storm could sink up to 3 inches along the coasts and valleys and up to 6 inches in the mountains.

Thursday is also one of the busiest travel days of the year according to the AAA and the Federal Transportation Security Administration, and officials advise local residents to be careful when driving on slippery or icy roads.

“It’s just really wet. Even on my way to work this morning, I slipped around, ”said Kristan Lund, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “People have to slow down, have the lights on and be very careful with the people around them.”

The storm system will trigger heavy rains in the area through Friday morning, Lund said. Saturday – Christmas Day – should be dry in the morning, but more moisture is likely to develop in the afternoon.

The heaviest rains occurred in the counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura by 10 p.m., according to the weather service data

Rocky Butte in San Luis Obispo County looked 6.74 inches, according to the weather service. The San Marcos Pass near Santa Barbara recorded 5.28 inches and areas of Ventura County recorded more than 4 inches of rain.

In the Los Angeles area, there was more modest rainfall, according to the data.

Santa Monica looked 2.24 inches, Hollywood Reservoir looked 1.83 inches, and Downtown LA was 1.39 inches.

In the San Fernando Valley, Porter Ranch recorded the most rainfall at 2.94 inches, Northridge 2.48 inches and Burbank 1.17 inches the data showed. Pasadena saw 2.13 inches of rain, Calabasas saw 2.7 inches, Alhambra saw 1.74 inches, and Newhall got 1.97 inches.

The cool storm also makes for cooler temperatures that are well below normal. Downtown Los Angeles will fluctuate around 60 degrees on Thursday and Friday, while the high on Christmas Day will be 58 degrees.

Snow depths are still high – about 9,000 feet – but should drop below 8,000 feet on Friday and to 5,000 feet on Saturday, according to Lund.

The storm has already disrupted conditions in Northern California, and winter storm monitors and warnings remain in effect from Humboldt County to Sierra Nevada, including parts of Plumas County and Lassen Park.

Jay Parker, 40, is pinning a wall he built to protect his home in Silverado Canyon.

Jay Parker, 40, is pinning a wall he built to protect his home in Silverado Canyon.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The combination of gusty winds, heavy mountain snow and valley rains will contribute to “difficult, if not impossible” travel conditions throughout the northern part of the state this week, officials said.

Significant delays in vacation travel, road closures and near-white-out conditions are possible in many mountainous regions.

Snow sliding from the roof of the Mammoth Mountain Inn buried a resort guest and sparked a rescue operation, officials confirmed.

The incident was brought to the attention of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol at 1:09 p.m., said Lauren Burke, a spokeswoman for the Mammoth Mountain Resort. Witnesses said they saw a person playing in the snow in the area and believed that person was buried.

“The recovery of the guest began immediately and the person was recovered after about four minutes,” said Burke. “CPR was started immediately and the guest was transferred to the doctors and Mammoth Hospital.”

An update on the person’s condition was not available on Thursday.

The Sierra Avalanche Center also warns of extreme avalanche risk for the Central Sierra between Yuba Pass and Ebbetts Pass, including the greater Lake Tahoe area, due to heavy snowfall and high winds.

Officials in Tuolumne said Thursday the broken dam will be “handled” and urged residents to remain calm. Water is being released from Twain Harte Lake, which will cause water levels to rise downstream, they said.

The rest of the year promises to be similarly wet and snowy, with an ongoing stormy pattern expected over the west coast for much of the next week.

Meteorologists said a very cold system could move over Montana along the west coast on Saturday and Sunday, creating more cold temperatures and the potential for additional rain and snow.

Another storm is forecast for Monday and another for Tuesday or Wednesday.

Times staffer Gregory Yee contributed to this report.

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