The cleanup was underway after a heavy storm swept across California, setting rainfall records in the drought-stricken state, but also sparking rescue operations on a raging river and mudslide-hit canyon communities.
The National Weather Service reported notable rainfall, including 27 inches over 72 hours on Mount Tamalpais north of San Francisco. Downtown Los Angeles had fallen 2.16 inches by Tuesday afternoon, breaking a December 14th, 1888 record.
Only 0.96 inches was the record for December 14, 1888.
By Tuesday afternoon, 8.1 inches of rain had fallen in an area of Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. In 24 hours, more than 4.6 inches fell in Silverado Canyon, Orange County’s south of LA, where the sheriff’s deputies rescued residents after fire-ravaged homes were flooded with mud in the area.
No injuries were reported.
Windy and only 28 degrees. Howling winds brought rain and then snow to Big Bear. Hetty Chang reports December 14, 2021.
Here are a few more southern California rainfall records set on Tuesday.
- Palmdale Airport: 0.68 “breaks the old record of 0.35 set in 1933.
- Santa Barbara Airport: 1.44 “breaks the old record of 0.61 set in 2002.
- LAX: 1.29 “breaks the old record of 0.38 set in 1993.
- Lancaster: 0.72 “breaks the old record of 0.25” set in 1970.
- Sandberg: 1.0 “breaks the old record of 0.8 from 1934.
- Santa Maria Airport: 1.13 “breaks the old record of 0.75 set in 1993.
- Hollywood Burbank Airport: 1.81 “breaks the old record of 0.29 set in 1965.
Firefighters searched the surging Los Angeles River on Tuesday after discovering two sunken vehicles wedged against a bridge pier south of downtown LA and learning that a third vehicle had driven past the bridge. No casualties, if any, were located immediately and the fire brigade waited for the water level to drop.
“The circumstances surrounding these three separate vehicles and their journey down the LA River remain unclear,” the fire department said in a statement.
A man had previously been rescued after being washed into a covered creek canal in the San Fernando Valley. The man called for help on his cell phone and the fire department reached him through a maintenance hole in the street above. He suffered bruises and hypothermia, the firefighters said.
The storm caused officials to shut down a 40-mile section of iconic Highway 1 in the Big Sur area and it will remain closed indefinitely while crews repair damage and clean up rocks in the lanes. On the coastal route south of the San Francisco Bay Area, more than 30 centimeters of rain fell within 24 hours. Damage is common in wet weather.
The powerful system is a so-called atmospheric river that sucks up moisture from the Pacific Ocean and drains it away as rain at lower altitudes and as snow in the mountains.
The storm began over the weekend in Northern California and brought heavy rainfall inland all the way to Nevada, where more than 6 feet of snow has fallen at Mt. Rose ski resort, southwest of Reno, since Sunday night. Avalanche warnings were in place in the Mono and Inyo counties of California’s eastern Sierra, where Mammoth Mountain had about four feet of snow.
Residents near Alisal Fire, California’s Santa Barbara County, were ordered to evacuate fearing heavy rainfall could cause flooding and debris flows. The order was canceled on Tuesday afternoon.
Similar orders were issued to people who lived in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles near Burn Scars, where rockfalls have been reported. A mountain route into the Big Bear resort is expected to be closed until Wednesday while the crews cleared several feet of mud and debris.
It was too early to know how badly the rain would attack the drought of the state. The system built on the advance of a massive rainstorm in October, particularly in northern California, said Michael Anderson, the state climatologist. Heavy rains have moistened the soil, which will ensure that more water stays in the snow, he said.
In the past year, the mountain snow lost a lot of moisture to the ground because it was so dry, he said.
December, January, and February are usually the wettest months of the year in California; About half of the state’s annual rainfall falls within that window, he said. If the storms don’t last through the winter, the effects of that storm on the drought will be “cushioned,” Anderson said.
Any moisture is badly needed in the broader region hit by drought that scientists say is caused by climate change. The latest U.S. drought monitor shows parts of Montana, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Utah are classified as exceptional drought, which is the worst category.