California rain: 'Six straight hours of rain,' and drought continues

Southern California storm breaks records; flash flood watches in effect Wednesday

A record-setting storm covering Southern California was expected to begin tapering off Wednesday after triggering dozens of evacuations and putting city crews in Ventura and Los Angeles counties on alert for mudslides.

“Yesterday, we had six straight hours of rain," said meteorologist Curt Kaplan.

Meanwhile, injury accidents on area freeways more than doubled in the rain Tuesday compared with the same period a week earlier when roads were dry, the California Highway Patrol said.

The storm that began passing over the region Tuesday was the biggest of the rain season that began July 1, forecasters said. The record for Dec. 2 rain was eclipsed in several locations. It rained 1.21 inches in downtown L.A., 1.14 inches in Lancaster and 2.14 inches at Santa Barbara Airport, all breaking records set in the 1960s, according to the weather service.

The rain "wasn’t heavy but it was consistent," said Kaplan, with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. "Today will be more showery.”

The mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties saw 3.5 inches and 4.5 inches of rain, respectively. The downpour was heavy enough that 75 homes in Camarillo were placed under mandatory evacuation orders Tuesday while residents of a swath of Glendora and Azusa prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

"This is life up here," Glendora resident David Jones said Tuesday. "As long as everyone is walking at the end of the day, the houses and all that stuff can be rebuilt.”

Though Wednesday’s rain is expected to be more sporadic, it will be consistent enough that forecasters have kept flash flood watches in place for foothill residents, Kaplan said.

The storm left Northern California sopping too.

"Thus far, we're at about 11th in the wettest one-day period in the last eight or nine years," said forecaster Bob Benjamin of the National Weather Service's Monterey office. "It's likely the wettest period thus far this rain season, and quite possibly this calendar year."

The rain is the second of back-to-back storms to hit Southern California. Despite the recent wet weather, it’s relatively insignificant when it comes to relieving the state from its historic drought.

“It took us three years to get in the drought, it’s going to take a lot to get out of it,” Kaplan said. “We’re going to need a lot more of these kinds of rains. The only good thing -- it’ll help moisten fuels in drought-hit areas where there’s wildfires.”

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:44 a.m.: Information on crashes on local freeways added.

This post was originally published at 5:57 a.m.

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