A strong winter storm dumped heavy rain across Southern California on Monday, flooding roads and snarling traffic with a series of crashes, and bringing down at least one tree that trapped a man beneath its giant trunk.
Shortly after 8 a.m., firefighters rescued a homeless man from under a fallen tree that ripped down utility lines and struck a two-story apartment building on Laveta Terrace in Echo Park. The man suffered a minor injury and declined to be taken to a hospital, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The first of two storm systems to hit the West Coast from the Gulf of Alaska arrived in the Central Coast on Sunday afternoon and began pouring rain across Los Angeles and Orange counties and the Inland Empire overnight. The storm was expected to pass over the region relatively quickly but stalled instead, and by Monday evening it had dropped more than 2 inches of rain in Bel-Air, Redondo Beach and Santa Monica, said Kathy Hoxsie of the National Weather Service.
“The rain came and it didn’t leave,” Hoxsie said. “At times we got reports it was heavy, but it didn’t last.”
Throughout the day, slick roads caused a traffic nightmare across the region.
A big rig jackknifed on the eastbound 210 Freeway west of Sunland Boulevard shortly after 4 a.m. amid heavy rain, forcing the closure of part of the freeway for about two hours. Dozens of spinouts and crashes were reported ahead of the rush hour.
On Sunday night, a pair of rock slides closed part of Malibu Canyon Road as forecasters warned that heavy rain could also cause debris flows in the burned Sepulveda Pass area.
The California Highway Patrol reported that Malibu Canyon Road was closed from near Mulholland Drive to Pepperdine University. The area was hard hit by last year’s Woolsey fire, making steep hillsides vulnerable to mudslides. KCBS-TV Channel 2 reported that one motorist was injured when a boulder smashed into her car.
The weather service had issued a flood advisory for Los Angeles County, warning of rainfall rates that will cause widespread flooding on roadways and low-lying areas, along with possible minor debris flows around the recent burn areas, including the Saddleridge, Getty and Tick fire burn scars.
But no major issues materialized, “just some mud and rocks in the road and some urban flooding in the roadway,” Hoxsie said.
Monday’s storm also dusted Southern California mountains with fresh snow. Wrightwood picked up 7 inches of powder Monday, with snow continuing throughout the day.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the San Bernardino County mountains through 4 a.m. Tuesday, warning of difficult travel conditions and snow accumulations exceeding 12 inches in areas above 7,000 feet.
Tuesday is expected to be dry, but it won’t last long. Another system is moving into the area Christmas morning, bringing heavy rain to coastal areas and widespread snow in the mountains, which will last through Thursday, Hoxsie said.
That system is expected to drop snow levels down to 5,000 feet, which could bring snow to the Grapevine and other mountain passes late Wednesday and Thursday.
“The main thing is to travel on Tuesday if [you] can,” Hoxsie said. “The second storm isn’t going to be as wet, but it will probably be more hazardous if [drivers] are going into the mountains.”
The second storm is expected to taper off by Friday, giving Southern Californians a brief window of dry conditions. Hoxsie said forecasts show the potential for another storm reaching the area by New Year’s Eve.