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L.A. area hit by rain and thunder, mudslides, mountain snow

Kevin Woods takes a morning walk with Sadie in Frazier Park on Wednesday, as an overnight storm brought snow to the area.
(Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A winter storm drenched Southern California on Wednesday, startling residents with loud thunderclaps and bringing mudslides to some hillsides recently scarred by wildfires.

In Orange County’s Silverado Canyon, where thousands of acres were scorched last fall, some homes were damaged by flowing mud, and cars were stranded in the muck.

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for much of Los Angeles County, including the southern portions of the Bobcat and Ranch 2 burn scars, after nearly a quarter of an inch of rain fell in 20 minutes in Arcadia.

The storm was expected to last through Thursday and dump up to an inch of rain in most areas, said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist for the weather service in Oxnard.

It signaled its arrival in the L.A. area around 2 a.m. Wednesday with a dramatic roll of thunder that awakened sleepers and left dogs and cats quaking in terror.

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“Thunderstorms are dangerous. If you hear thunder, either stay in your vehicle or go indoors,” Sirard said. “People don’t want to be outdoors when it’s lightning.”

In Silverado Canyon, Ambrose Jimenez was preparing to leave for work about 7 a.m. when he heard a loud sound.

He thought it was thunder. But it was boulders sliding down the mountain, along with mud and other debris.

“The mud just kept coming and coming,” said Jimenez, 63, a fraud investigator for Citibank.

But his house was protected. After a January mudslide, he had spent about $3,000 on hay bales and sandbags.

On Wednesday, mud hit the side of the house but did not penetrate inside.

A winter storm warning was in effect until 10 p.m. Thursday for L.A. County mountains, except for the Santa Monica mountain range.

Six to 12 inches of snow were expected to fall above 4,500 feet.

A dusting of snow was expected in the foothills around the Antelope and Cuyama valleys and the higher elevations of the 14 Freeway. Snow levels were expected to drop to 2,500 feet.

In the Grapevine, California Highway Patrol officers escorted vehicles on the 5 Freeway as snow fell early Wednesday.

Trucks drive through blowing snow on the 5 Freeway in Gorman on Wednesday morning.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

In the Sierra Nevada, heavy snow fell, with the Mammoth Mountain ski resort reporting 9 to 11 inches overnight.

The latest winter storm is not likely to make much of a dent in what has been a critically dry year for California.

Dry weather is expected to return for the weekend with warmer temperatures. Forecasters said rain is possible again early next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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