Rain Moves Out, Mudslide Threat Looms

The hillsides are ok... the roads? Not so much.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images

    Although LA's hillside burn areas remained intact Wednesday morning, the same could not be said for the morning commute -- it was a mess.

    The California Highway Patrol said there were 186 traffic crashes in Los Angeles County during the six-hour period ending at 6 a.m. There were 19 crashes during the same period a week ago, a dry day.

    The morning drive included jackknifed big-rigs and crashed vehicles. Lanes on some roads were impassable because of hubcap-deep pools caused by overwhelmed storm drains.

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    [LA] Elita's Forecast
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    An overturned big rig blocked traffic on the northbound 5 Freeway near the 134 Freeway. The crash was cleared just before the morning drive.

    The storm also caused power outages. At 7 a.m., SoCal Edison reported 10,000 customers without power from Santa Barbara to the Inland Empire. LADWP said 13,195 customers were without power.

    Mudslide Threat Looms

    [LA] Mudslide Threat Looms
    Foothill residents fared fairly well overnight, but the mudslide threat is far from over.

    The storm took its toll on Venice's drainage system. Standing water was reported on several roads.

    Moderate showers continued into the morning, but conditions cleared later in the day.

    Although the rain is moving out of the region, authorities said the mudslide threat remains because of drenched hillsides.

    Concern is especially high in the La Canada Flintridge area, near the scorched hillsides left behind by the Station Fire. In the order listed by Public Works, the communities considered vulnerable for "small isolated  debris and mudflows," are:

    • La Canada, La Crescenta, Glendale, Tujunga and the Acton area, which are all vulnerable to mountain watersheds scorched by the 250-square-mile Station Fire in September and August.
    • The Portuguese Bend area, adjacent to the Palos Verdes Fire in August.
    • Glenoaks Boulevard and the 134 and 2 freeways, near the Freeway Fire in August.
    • Sloan Canyon Road and Interstate 5, near the Sloan Fire in July.
    • Little Tujunga Canyon and Cottonwood Canyon, near the Tujunga Fire in July.
    • Sylmar, Newhall and the San Fernando Reservoir area, adjacent to the Sayre Fire of November 2008.
    • Porter Ranch, Twin Lakes, and part of Granada Hills, vulnerable to areas burned by the Sesnon Fire in October 2008.
    • Little Tujunga, Pacoima, Kagel and Lopez canyons, near the Marek Fire of October 2008.
    • Canyons and ridges above east Sierra Madre, adjacent to the Santa Anita Fire of May 2008.
    • Malibu, between Corral Canyon and Latigo Canyon, near the Corrall Fire of November 2007.
    • Val Verde and Castaic, near the Ranch Fire of October 2007.
    • Malibu, between Las Flores Canyon and Malibu Canyon, near the Canyon Fire of October 2007.
    • Santa Clarita and the Angeles National Forest, between Dry Canyon and Mint Canyon, near the Buckweed Fire of October 2007.
    • Malibu, in the vicinity of Malibu Bluff State Park, near the Malibu Fire of January 2007.
    • The Sand Canyon area of Santa Clarita, upstream of Placerita Canyon. The community is adjacent to watersheds burned by the Cross Fire in August 2006.

    All county roads within the Station Fire burn area were closed because of the approaching storm and will remain off-limits until at least midnight, public works officials said. Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road are closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles and Department of Public Works personnel.

    Residents will not be permitted to use the roads, which officials say would be unsafe during a forecasted rainstorm due to the potential for debris flows.

    "We urge residents to continue to monitor news broadcasts or visit the website at www.dpwcare.org for further updates," said DPW spokesman Bob Spencer.

    Sandbags and concrete barriers called K-rail were placed on streets in suburbs northeast of Los Angeles to try to direct any debris flows away from homes. 

    "Those barriers will be there all winter and into next year," said County Fire Battalion Chief Mike Brown. "Regrowth on those steep slopes is going to take a while so we'll have these problems for the next five to seven years."

    The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning early Wednesday for a burn area in Santa Barbara County. Heavy rainfall was expected to cause flash flooding and debris flows in a part of the county scorched by recent wildfire, according to the weather service.

    An 8,700-acre blaze in May left hillsides barren in the area. Forecasters were looking at 3 to 6 inches of rain.

    The USGS released a report that said flows might measure about 100,000 cubic yards, or enough material to cover a football field 60 feet deep.

    Rain started to fall in the foothills of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo late Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.

    And it's not just rain. Powerful winds on the coast between Point Reyes and Big Sur, and several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada, meteorologists said.

    Last week, on the potential for landslides in California's burn areas.