After Bracing for Worst, Southland Eludes Storm’s Wrath : Weather: Repeated warnings of mudslides had been issued but little damage was reported. Weekend forecast calls for sunny skies.


Leaving Southern California damp but largely undamaged, a powerful Alaskan storm departed for Arizona on Friday after dumping up to 1 1/3 inches of rain in the coastal valleys and more than a foot of snow at some resort areas in the mountains.

Despite repeated warnings from the National Weather Service about possible mudslides in areas stripped bare during last fall’s destructive wildfires, most of the storm runoff was contained.

Rockslides did force temporary closure of Pacific Coast Highway and five canyon roads in the Malibu area, but the routes were reopened to residents Friday as Caltrans crews labored to clean up the mess.

The rain snarled traffic Thursday evening and apparently contributed to dozens of accidents on Los Angeles freeways and streets during the night.


In Van Nuys, a motorist apparently lost control of his car on a slippery roadway shortly after midnight Thursday and died when his vehicle struck a wall, Los Angeles police said.

Roberto Luna, 26, was driving eastbound on Saticoy Street when he may have failed to notice that the street veers to the right as it approaches Van Nuys Airport, Sgt. Rod Grahek said.

Investigators said that when Luna tried to stop, his car skidded on the wet pavement, glanced off a sign, vaulted over a guide wire and slammed into the wall.

Shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, the Coast Guard called off a search west of Santa Catalina Island for the source of an apparent distress signal first picked up about 9 a.m. Thursday as the storm system began moving into Southern California, generating heavy seas along the coast.

The signal, which seemed to be from the type of emergency radio signaling device carried by many small boats, faded out about two hours after it was first heard, Coast Guard Petty Officer Trent Jones said.

An airborne search team spotted a light on what appeared to be a raft in the same general area late Thursday night, but another sweep at dawn Friday turned up nothing, Jones said.

Although forecasters had predicted that the storm would hang around much longer, most of the rain fell in heavy thundershowers Thursday night, with only a few light sprinkles reported in most areas on Friday.

By nightfall Friday, the forecast was for clearing skies with plenty of sun today and Sunday, and high temperatures climbing into the mid-70s.


The high temperature at the Los Angeles Civic Center on Friday was 62 degrees, after an overnight low of 48. As of 5 p.m., the Downtown rainfall total from the storm was .77 of an inch. The season’s rainfall total was 7 inches, compared to a normal total of 13.13 inches.

Times staff writer Timothy Williams contributed to this story.