Huge California Storm Raises Mudslide Fears, Triggers Evacuations, Forces Water Rescues

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Southern California residents have evacuated neighborhoods below hillsides scarred by wildfires as the third — and largest — in the latest series of storms brings powerful rain and warnings about flash flooding and possible mudslides.

The National Weather Service says the system is gaining strength Sunday and could be the strongest in at least seven years. Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for swaths of greater Los Angeles, where mountain areas could see more than 2 inches of rain.

Evacuations are ordered near wildfire burn areas in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Officials say potential debris flows could restrict access for emergency responders.

Craig Herrera, meteorologist for CBS2/KCAL9, says the storm moving in from Monterey Bay is expected to bring between one to three inches of rain to the valleys.

Four to seven inches of rain are expected to fall across the foothills and mountains, spurring mandatory evacuation orders to residents in Duarte.

“Packing and leaving cause the muds are coming, mudslides,” said Ralph Olivas, a Duarte resident. He said he was concerned, adding, “that comes with the territory living up here.”

Also in Duarte, classes were canceled for Valley View Elementary School for Monday, Jan. 23, due to weather conditions, according to the city of Duarte.

In Santa Clarita, mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for residents living along Placerita Canyon Road to the south, Sand Canyon Road to the west, and Iron Canyon Road on the northern boundary.

For the time being, CBS2’s Rachel Kim said the area has dodged a bullet in terms of major damage.

In Riverside, several homes were red-tagged following mudslides.

In the Cajon Pass, officials reporting having to make a rain-related swift water rescue of two people who were trapped in a Ford F-150  overtaken by water. The rescue happened around 2:30 p.m.

Around 4 p.m., the LAFD also rescued two people near the Pacific Coast Highway and Pine Creek Lane. At least one of the people was transported to a nearby hospital in unknown condition.

Also around 4 p.m., in Murrieta, crews had to rescue two adults and two children — including a toddler  — that got overcome with water. Officials in Murrieta said it was their second such rescue of the day.

The Bear Valley Unified School District announced that all schools are closed Monday due to snow conditions. For the latest on school closures in the district, click here.

Manhattan Beach Police sent out an alert for drivers saying several intersections have been closed due to flooding. They added, “avoid driving through flooded areas.”

Manhattan Beach Fire, meanwhile, announced Sunday evening that ten sandbags were available to residents at Fire Station No. 1 and City Yard.

From video shot by resident Lillian Walker who drove through several neighborhoods in her SUV, they will need them.

There have also been reports of flooding on the 605 Freeway, in areas in and around Carson, Eastvale,  Culver City, Santa Ana and San Fernando Valley streets and in Garden Grove.

There were enough rain-related incidents in Garden Grove to prompt the GG Fire Department to open up its Department Operations Center.

In Gardena, officials reported heavy rains bu not major issues. They did say a large tree fell at Glendora and Leandora but there was no property damage or injuries reported.

The San Gabriel Police Department is asking drivers to avoid San Gabriel and the 10 Freeway underpass due to complete flooding. Several vehicle have become stranded and traffic in the area is being diverted.

In Phelan, wild winds added to the weather equation. Viewer Frank Macomber sent us a video of a trampoline looking more like tumbleweed as it blew past him on a roadway.

Just before 5 p.m. Pomona Police asked the public to avoid the intersection of Philadelphia Street and Reservoir Street for the next three hours due to a rain-related traffic incident. Police also wanted to remind drivers to slow down and drive with caution because many roads are flooded.

The American Red Cross has opened up three shelters in Santa Clarita, Duarte and Wilmington area for people affected by floods.

The shelters are located at:

• Canyon High School, 19300 Nadal Street, Santa Clarita, 91351

• Duarte Community Center, 1600 Huntington Drive, Duarte, 91010

• East Wilmington Greenbelts Community Center, 918 N. Sanford Avenue, Wilmington, 90744

The shelters will remain open until officials determine it is safe for residents to return to their homes.

All over the Southland, communities reported record rainfall totals for the day.

Firefighters in Long Beach, pulled off several rescues and tweeted out photos showing them coming to the aid of residents.

To the north, a band of strong thunderstorms is moving through the San Francisco Bay Area and heavy snow is expected in the Sierra Nevada.

For up-to-the-minute live traffic and weather updates, tune-in to KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO and visit cbsLA.com/traffic.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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