Floods, mud­slides as storm wal­lops South­ern Cal­i­for­nia

Porterville Recorder - - RECORD - By CHRISTO­PHER WE­BER

LOS AN­GE­LES — The se­cond storm in a week brought record-break­ing rain­fall to parched Los An­ge­les on Thurs­day, jam­ming traf­fic on South­ern Cal­i­for­nia high­ways and prompt­ing evac­u­a­tions in wild­firescarred ar­eas.

A mud­slide shut down Pa­cific Coast High­way and sur­round­ing roads in and around Mal­ibu neigh­bor­hoods charred by last month's mas­sive fire that de­stroyed hun­dreds of homes.

Kirby Kotler and his neigh­bors spent days be­fore the storm stack­ing 18,000 sand­bags be­hind their homes along the high­way. But when heavy rains ar­rived, mud, water and rocks blasted through the bags and across their prop­er­ties.

Kotler, who wielded water hoses to beat back the flames in Novem­ber, used a trac­tor to keep the de­bris from en­ter­ing his home.

"Sav­ing my house once again," said Kotler, 57, a life­long Mal­ibu res­i­dent. "I'm more than a lit­tle con­cerned. If we get an­other blast of heavy rain there'll be no stop­ping the hill from com­ing down."

Mal­ibu of­fi­cials re­ported no in­juries and no ma­jor prop­erty dam­age.

At Hol­ly­wood Bur­bank Air­port, about 15 miles (33 kilo­me­ters) north of down­town Los An­ge­les, no­body was hurt when a South­west Air­lines plane from Oak­land skid­ded off a wet run­way as it landed. The plane came to a stop in a graded area de­signed to slow air­craft that over­shoot the run­way, the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion said.

"As we landed, you could feel the brakes," pas­sen­ger Grant Palmer told KABC-TV. "Then I started notic­ing the plane go­ing side­ways."

Palmer said he was pre­pared to tuck into an emer­gency pos­ture while his un­flap­pable co­worker con­tin­ued writ­ing emails dur­ing the rough land­ing.

Los An­ge­les and the rest of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia sorely need rain­fall. Vir­tu­ally the en­tire re­gion is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing drought con­di­tions, with por­tions of Los An­ge­les and Ven­tura coun­ties and ar­eas along the Mex­i­can bor­der in ex­treme drought.

The storm pro­vided a big boost in and around Los An­ge­les. The down­town area set a new rain­fall record for the day with 1.9 inches (4.8 cen­time­ters) of rain, nearly dou­ble the pre­vi­ous record set in 1997, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice re­ported. Nor­mal monthly rain­fall for De­cem­ber is only a bit more — 2.33 inches.

While rain caused nu­mer­ous ac­ci­dents and back­ups on La-area free­ways, heavy snow forced the clo­sure of In­ter­state 5 in the Grapevine area be­tween Los An­ge­les and the San Joaquin Val­ley. The hours-long shut­down along the key north-south route caused back­ups for miles.

Mo­torists were urged to use cau­tion on moun­tain passes, where up to 6 feet (1.8 me­ters) of snow was pre­dicted at higher el­e­va­tions.

Manda­tory evac­u­a­tions were or­dered for hun­dreds of homes in Trabuco Canyon in the Santa Ana Moun­tains south of Los An­ge­les and Lake Elsi­nore neigh­bor­hoods in River­side County. Both were burned in an­other mas­sive wild­fire ear­lier this year. Video showed a churn­ing, muddy tor­rent full of tree trunks smash­ing down a bridge guardrail.


A pedes­trian leaps across a flooded por­tion of the La Paz and Sev­enth Street in­ter­sec­tion as a win­ter storm ar­rived, Thurs­day, Dec. 6, in Vic­torville, Calif.

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