Powerful Storm Pounds Southern California Friday

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – One of the biggest storms to hit Southern California wreaked havoc Friday, causing flash floods, downing trees and power lines as well as prompting flight cancellations and evacuation orders.

“The storm looks to be the strongest storm to hit southwest California this season,” the National Weather Service office for the Los Angeles region wrote. “It is likely the strongest within the last six years and possibly even as far back as December 2004 or January 1995.”

At least three dozen trees across the city had toppled as a result of fierce winds and/or overly saturated ground, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported.

A 55-year-old man was killed after coming in contact with downed power lines in Sherman Oaks.

Residents living near hills that were burned by wildfires were bracing for debris flow or mudslides.

In Santa Clarita, a neighborhood had been turned into a raging muddy river, trapping some people inside their homes.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for 202 homes in Duarte near the Fish Fire burn area.

Street closures were ordered at Royal Oaks and Greenbank; Bettyhill and Conata; Royal Oaks and Mel Canyon; eastbound Fish Canyon at Mel Canyon; westbound Fish Canyon at Mel Canyon, Mountaincrest and Deerlane; Brookridge and Tannencrest; and Sunnydale Drive and Westvale Road.

Classes were canceled at Valley View School. An evacuation center was opened at the city Community Center, 1600 Huntington Drive.

In Pasadena, Saturday’s annual Black History Month parade was cancelled, citing public safety concerns including possible lightning strikes.

Santa Anita Park canceled all its horse races for Friday, and the PGA tour’s Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club was disrupted.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at Burbank, Los Angeles International and John Wayne airports.

At LAX, more than 300 flights were impacted. Southwest Airlines scrapped almost all of its flights in and out of the area on Friday, along with some on Saturday.

Travelers are urged to check for flight delays and cancellations.

A flash flood watch will be in effect from 7 a.m. through Saturday morning everywhere in Los Angeles County.

In Glendora, evacuations had not been ordered beneath the Colby Fire burn area as of late Friday.

But a yellow alert was issued asking residents to remove vehicles and other obstructions from streets to ensure they are not washed away in a mudflow or obstruct emergency vehicles trying to reach the area.

A flash flood warning was in effect for most of the day in Sand and Fish fire burn areas, affecting areas including Sylmar, Monrovia, Azusa, Duarte and Angeles Crest Highway between Mount Wilson and Mount Waterman.

In Orange County, a voluntary evacuation was issued for the Silverado Canyon burn area at 9 a.m. Friday.

The evacuation applied to homes east of 30311 Silverado Canyon Road., the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

Only residents will be allowed to enter the area. The voluntary evacuation may be upgraded to mandatory depending on how the storm plays out. A Red Cross shelter has been opened at the Silverado Community Center.

Some Seal Beach residents are trying to keep the water from entering their beachfront houses as a shallow pool was formed right outside their doorsteps.  CBS2’s Michele Gile almost got blown away by the strong winds.

CBS2’s Stacey Butler shows other damage caused by the storm.

High surf is expected along the coast through Sunday as a result of a large storm-generated westerly swell, with the biggest surf up to 13 feet expected Saturday.

A high surf advisory will be in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday.

“Large waves and strong rip currents will increase the risk of ocean drowning for swimmers and surfers,” a NWS statement said. “Large breaking waves can cause injury, wash people off beaches or rocks and capsize small boats near shore.”

In the mountains, between 1 and 2 feet of snow are possible above 8,000 feet and between 6 and 12 inches above 6,000 feet, the NWS said. The snow level will drop to between 5,000 and 5,500 feet late Friday evening and Saturday morning.

A winter storm warning denoting highly challenging travel conditions characterized by snow, fierce winds, blowing snow and icy roads will be in force in the San Gabriel mountains from 7 a.m. Friday until 11 a.m. Saturday.

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