Three El Niño storms in a row hit Southern California so far this week. Another storm is expected Saturday.
Officials will study both the behavior of the storms and how officials responded to them. The assessments are important because forecasters are predicting a winter of heavy, potentially destructive rain because of the El Niño weather pattern. Concern remains high that such frequent storms over time can erode hillsides and cause more mudslides.
Three-day rainfall totals for Southern California
These images show the rainfall totals for the 72 hours ending at 4 a.m. Thursday in Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Diego County.
Let the sunshine in
The rain is expected to kick up again Thursday afternoon, but for now, Angelenos are enjoying the sunshine on an extra-clear day.
For laughs: Lamborghini fords San Diego road
A Lamborghini driver wasn't scared off by roadway flooding caused by an El Niño storm this week.
L.A. River: That's a lot of water
The National Weather Service had reported the following three-day snowfall totals in California as of Thursday morning:
- 30 inches at Snow Summit
- 24 to 30 inches at Big Bear Lake
- 12 to 15 inches at Mt. Laguna
- 6 to 10 inches at Lake Arrowhead
- 3 inches (as of Wednesday evening) at Idyllwild
- 23 inches in Squaw Valley
- 29 inches at Sierra-at-Tahoe Summit
- 18 inches at Sierra-at-Tahoe Base
- 30 inches at Mammoth Mountain
Thousands without power in Big Bear area
Thousands of people were without power Thursday morning in the Big Bear area, which has received more than 2 feet of snow over the last three days.
Approximately 5,900 Bear Valley Electric Service customers on the south side of Big Bear Lake were experiencing outages because of the El Niño-fueled storm, the utility said.
By Thursday morning, crews had restored power to about 4,100 customers on the eastern side of Bear Valley.
About 2,600 Bear Valley Electric Service customer were without power in the Moonridge area. Crews had located the problem and were working to restore power, with an estimated time of restoration at 10:15 a.m., the utility said.
Wintry driving conditions in mountains today
The National Weather Service in Oxnard has issued a winter weather advisory through at least noon Thursday for Los Angeles and Ventura County mountains.
An additional 2 to 6 inches of snow is possible above 4,000 feet, and snow levels are locally down to 3,500 feet, with southwest winds of 20-30 miles per hour and gusts up to 45 miles per hour.
Drivers should be cautious of hazardous conditions from snow- and ice-covered roads through the mountains, the weather service said.
Motorists should avoid mountain driving if possible and check the latest road reports before departing. Officials are urging drivers to keep emergency kits in their vehicles, including flashlights, food and water, extra clothes, blankets and tire chains.
The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued a winter storm warning for the mountains of San Bernardino and Riverside counties above 4,500 feet this morning.
Snow showers and isolated thunderstorms could occur throughout the morning, with an additional 4 to 8 inches of snow possible. There could be areas of near zero visibility because of blowing snow and fog.
A winter storm warning for San Diego County mountains above 4,500 feet will remain in effect through Thursday evening.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has declared an ocean-water-quality rain advisory for all county beaches through Friday because of storm runoff.
County officials recommend that beach users do not get in the water for at least three days after significant rainfall, especially near flowing storm drains, creeks and rivers.
Coming after days of rain that washed away hillsides and flooded freeways, damage from the next El Niño storm,hitting Southern California on Thursday, will be focused on the coastline, the National Weather Service said.
“By far the big headline today will be the surf [with] 10- to 15-foot sets over west-facing beaches in L.A. and Ventura counties. We don’t normally do surf warnings unless it's over 15 feet,” said Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It’s going to be very strong. With some winds, it could cause erosion.”
Early Thursday, the storm was clocked moving east at 35 mph and was reportedly shaking residents in Malibu out of their early morning slumber with thunder and lightning. Pea-sized hail and ground lightning strikes were reported, along with minor street flooding.
Press the eject button
Times photographer Al Schaben is on the sand in Seal Beach this morning where he snapped this classic wipeout in the El Niño-driven surf.
Surfline's dawn patrol report forecast strong swells this morning, with the high tide around 7 a.m. "adding some extra wonk to the already raw swell."
Health officials urge surfers and others to stay out of the water for 72 hours after storms, but the waves still beckon to many.
The Los Angeles River has awakened.
The sheer breadth and speed of the water was disorienting, enough to make you lose your balance glancing back to solid land.
The river at its peak can move 146,000 cubic feet of water every second. The Colorado River, sculptor of the Grand Canyon, can't do a quarter of that.
By far the big headline today will be the surf [with] 10- to 15-foot sets over west-facing beaches in L.A. and Ventura counties. We don’t normally do surf warnings unless it's over 15 feet. It’s going to be very strong. With some winds, it could cause erosion.”
Lighting up Long Beach
Looks like more of the same
This could slow you down
I-5 in Sun Valley: All lanes open
Coffee, warm clothes and soup
That'll leave a mark
In 2014, L.A. Times reporter Teresa Watanabe talked to weather experts about why Californians are at less risk for being struck by lightning than people in many other states. We are revisiting these details from our archives as the skies in parts of Southern California light up with electrical bolts.
The chances of lightning striking a person in California are 1 in 7.5 million. Montana residents have among the highest chances at 1 in about 250,000, but Florida is the “nation’s lightning champion” with 31 recorded incidents in 2011.