A powerful winter storm making a path through Southern California was expected to weaken on Saturday, bringing mounds of sleet, snow and record rain in its wake.
Reports of power outages, grounded flights and road closures echoed across the Southland as the plume of frigid moisture blazed a southeasterly path. Rescue crews came to the aid of several people, including a 61-year-old man who was hoisted to safety from a sand island in the Tujunga wash Saturday morning, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
Four homeless people, along with four dogs and a cat, were also rescued late Friday night from a remote patch of land in the heavily flooded Sepulveda basin, LAFD said. Two of the people were hypothermic and were taken to hospital.
The storm, which has already turned Northern California into a winter wonderland, set multiple precipitation records Friday in and around Los Angeles, including 4.61 inches of rain near Hollywood Burbank Airport — the fifth wettest day on record, according to Rich Thompson, a meteorologist with the National weather service in Oxnard.
Daily precipitation records were also set at Los Angeles International Airport, which received 2.04 inches, and in Lancaster with 0.78 inches, Camarillo with 1.43 inches, Oxnard with 2.04 inches and Santa Maria with 2.61 inches, said Thompson, calling it “very impressive stuff”. ”
The unusual system also dropped heavy snow on mountain areas, especially elevations above 4,500 feet. Mountain High resort in Wrightwood received 65 inches of fresh powder in 24 hours, Thompson said, with the potential for an additional foot Saturday.
However, the storm’s center of gravity has passed the Los Angeles area, Thompson said.
“Right now, the heaviest downpours have moved into eastern LA County. You will still see steady light to moderate rain in the morning, but it will become more showery by the afternoon,” he said.
Areas like San Bernardino and San Diego were still in the thick of it Saturday morning, but also expected a weakening trend later in the day, said Brian Adams, a meteorologist with the San Diego Weather Service.
“The system as a whole is moving more or less in an east, southeast direction,” he said.
A rare one blizzard warning will remain in effect for the mountains of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties until 4 p.m. Saturday, where heavy snow, gusty winds and near-zero visibility are possible.
a flood watch is also in effect in large parts of Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Saturday afternoon, where flooding due to excessive rainfall is still possible.
The storm has snapped at traffic, especially in mountain passes. Interstate 5 remains closed in the Grapevine area from Tejon Pass to Parker Road due to winter conditions, the California Department of Transportation said. In the city, Interstate 5 was also closed around Los Feliz Boulevard and around Laurel Canyon Boulevard due to flooding.
Other closures in the area include portions of state routes 14 and 138, as well as state routes 2 and 39 in the Angeles National Forest, Caltrans said.
Thousands of residents were also awakened Saturday by blackouts in North Hollywood, Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Jefferson Park and more, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said. The agency said residents can expect crews to respond “between 12-24 hours” from the time the outage is reported, though recovery could take longer depending on local conditions.
“Our crews are working as quickly and safely as possible in cold and wet conditions to restore power to affected customers,” the agency said.
Edison’s of Southern California malfunction card also showed more than 18,000 customers without power in Southern California, including about 12,300 in LA County.
While the system is weakening, officials warned residents to remain vigilant as boggy, snowy and potentially dangerous conditions could persist.
In Valencia, three motorhomes at a motorhome park were swept into the Santa Clara River shortly after midnight on Saturday when a levee collapsed. That reported CBS Los Angeles. There was no one in the campers and there were no injuries.
“We still closed the 5, the 14, the 2 — that’s not going to change any time soon,” Thompson said of highway closures. “It will probably be a while, so I don’t think anyone will be traveling in the mountains today…because you can’t get anywhere.”