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Storm Called `One of the Strongest Ever To Hit' Southland

Lights reflection on road in rainy weather. Palm trees and rainfall, California.

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Several roads were flooded throughout the Southland and thousands of people were without power Saturday as a historic winter storm lashed the area with heavy rain, snow and high winds.

Some relief was expected Saturday with gradually lighter rainfall as the day progresses, according to the National Weather Service, which called the storm one of then strongest ever to hit Southwest California.

It poured all day and all night Friday and continued raining throughout the morning Saturday in most parts of the Southland, with 5-8 inches of rain across the valleys and almost 12 inches in some lower mountain locations.

The downpour created extremely dangerous driving conditions. Three motorhomes were swept into the Santa Clara River on Saturday morning when an embankment collapsed at the Valencia Travel Village RV Park in Valencia. They were located downstream but the embankment was continuing to erode, KCAL9 reported. No injuries were reported.

Several freeway and road closures were ongoing Saturday, including:

-- State Route 14 (the Antelope Valley Freeway) was closed between Sand Canyon Road and Sierra Highway;

-- The northbound Golden State (5) Freeway was closed from Fletcher Boulevard to Glendale Boulevard due to flooding;

-- Farther north, all traffic was being diverted to the carpool lane on the northbound 5 Freeway between Penrose Street and Sheldon Street north of Burbank due to the three right lanes being flooded;

-- Northbound I-5 (the Grapevine) was closed between Lake Hughes Road and Templin Highway;

-- State Route 39 in the Angeles National Forest was closed in both directions from East Fork Road to State Route 2;

-- State Route 2 in the Angeles National Forest was closed in both directions from East Fork Road to Islip Saddle;

-- State Route 138 was closed in both directions from 2.2 miles north of I-210 to I-5 to 190th Street West;

-- Topanga Canyon Boulevard was closed in both directions from Pacific Coast Highway to Grand View Drive due to a mudslide.

Santa Monica police reported shortly before 1 p.m. that lightning was detected near the coast. LA County lifeguards were closing the beach until further notice, and people on the pier, beach, or in the ocean were urged to seek shelter until the storm passed.

In North Hollywood, flooding trapped at least five vehicles on Vineland Avenue next to Hollywood/Burbank Airport. Drivers were able to get out safely and airport operations were not disrupted yet, but flooding was near the runway, ABC7 reported.

A blizzard warning -- the first issued in the area since 1989 -- remained in place until 4 p.m. Saturday in the Los Angeles mountains. Snow continued to fall at unusually low levels Saturday, as low as 1,000 feet in some areas.

Snow was reported in Santa Clarita and Stevenson Ranch.

Forecasters said it might take well into Saturday night and possibly Sunday morning for snow showers to taper off across the eastern San Gabriel Mountains, and there was a strong chance that winter hazard conditions in the mountains would be extended beyond 4 p.m. Saturday.

"The incredible amount of snow combined with the strong wind will lead to extreme avalanche conditions along steeper terrain and at lower elevations than we typically experience in southern California," forecasters said. "The most significant threat for avalanches is typically within 24 hours of new snowfall. The heavy snowfall will increase risk of downed trees and power outages and can cause damage to roofs which have shallow slopes."

Thousands of Southland residents were without power Saturday. Both the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison were reporting multiple large outages that began Friday.

"Our crews worked through pouring rain & wind overnight to restore power," the LADWP tweeted at 12:33 p.m. Saturday. "At 10AM this morning, 52,000 customers had been restored, while 66,500 remained without power out of LADWP's 1.5 million customers."

The outages included one in East Hollywood affecting over 2,200 customers, one in Hollywood affecting more than 1,100 customers, one in Los Feliz affecting over 900 customers, and one in Toluca Lake affecting 874 customers, along with smaller scattered outages across Los Angeles County.

The utility estimated that power would be restored by 10 or 11 p.m. in those areas.

Several hundred customers were also without power in North Hollywood, Valley Village and Studio City, with restoration not anticipated until much later Saturday.

SCE's outage map showed 56 outages affecting more than 10,000 customers in Los Angeles County as of 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and 12 outages in Orange County affecting more than 550 customers.

On the bright side, winds were dying down, with gusts diminishing to 15 to 25 mph by Saturday night.

In Duarte, city officials lifted a yellow alert in the Fish Fire burn area that was issued at 11 a.m. Thursday. Melcanyon Road from Brookridge Road to Fish Canyon Road was re-opened. Residents of the 25 homes in the area had been under parking restrictions and ordered to remove trash bins from the street. The trash pickup scheduled for Friday was canceled and rescheduled for Monday, city officials said.

In Orange County, evacuation orders were lifted for Silverado Canyon and Williams Canyon in the Bond Fire burn area as of 7 a.m. Saturday.

Forecasters said that even when the precipitation begins to dissipate, a cold air mass will keep temperatures "much below normal through the weekend." Saturday's high in downtown Los Angeles was only expected to reach 52 degrees, with highs of 48 expected in Woodland Hills, 50 in Pasadena and just 45 in Santa Clarita. Temperatures are expected to rise a few degrees Sunday and Monday, but remain mostly in the 50s in most areas.

At the beaches, a high surf advisory expired at 8 a.m. Saturday but could return Tuesday, with local breakers to 10 feet possible for a few hours.

After a break that will feature partially clear skies most of Sunday, another storm is expected to bring rain and snow back to the area Sunday night and then off and on through Wednesday.

The rainy weather forced a series of closures and cancellations of events across the area. Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain were both closed Friday and Saturday. The Major League Soccer season-opening match Saturday at the Rose Bowl between the LA Galaxy and LAFC was postponed until July 4. A BikeLA Cruise & Connect ride scheduled for Saturday through Griffith Park was also scrubbed. And horse racing was canceled through the weekend at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.


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