Storm shuts roads, drops record rainfall

Times Staff Writers

A winter storm hammered Southern California on Wednesday night, closing Interstate 5 in the Grapevine area and California 58 in Mojave while also dumping record rainfall in Santa Barbara.

In the Los Angeles area, a winter storm watch was issued for all mountain areas except the Santa Monica Mountains. At least 2 feet of snow was expected to fall in the mountain areas before the storm tapers off early this morning.

The Santa Barbara Airport monitoring station received a record rainfall of 4.14 inches for a 24-hour period. The new mark obliterated the old record of 2.45 inches. “They are the standout winner,” said meteorologist Jamie Meier.

A record amount of rain also fell on Santa Maria Airport, where the precipitation totaled a little over 2 inches in 24 hours, drowning the old record of three-quarters of an inch.


The storm began in earnest just before the evening commute Wednesday. By 5 p.m., 5 inches of snow had fallen in the Grapevine area, and as much as 10 inches in Frazier Park, said Meier, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “Things are definitely messy out there right now.”.

Heavy snows also caused the closure of California 58 in Mojave. Officials said that particular closure promised to create major traffic problems for motorists traveling to San Francisco or Sacramento from Southern California, as it was the primary alternate route after the Interstate 5 closure.

In areas blackened by wildfires, flash-flood warnings remained in effect until late Wednesday night. Flood warnings were issued for Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Long Beach and other coastal communities, said Stan Wasowski, a National Weather Service forecaster in San Diego.

Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo also were threatened with flooding, Wasowski said.


Farther north, mudslides in Oregon caused Amtrak to cancel all Coast Starlight train service between Los Angeles and Seattle for a week, starting today.

The cold, low-pressure system that moved in from the Central Coast largely spared downtown Los Angeles.

Meier said a temporary respite could come early today. “Then Thursday night and into the weekend we should see Act 2,” she said, “with a pretty good rainfall rate bringing possibly an additional 2 inches of rainfall over Los Angeles County.”