Vigorous storm system hits Southern California with rain, snow and messy roads
A vigorous storm system moved into the Southland on Monday, delivering much-needed rain and high-elevation snow to the drought-stricken region — along with lightning, flash floods and road hazards — but it wasn’t enough to make more than a dent in the ongoing drought.
By Monday evening, more than 2 inches of rain had fallen in some areas of Los Angeles County, said Rich Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Sierra Madre got 2.78 inches of rain, and Santa Anita Dam saw 2.08 inches, Thompson said. Many other spots around the L.A. area received roughly 1.25 to 1.75 inches of rain.
Most of the rainfall had slowed by the evening, although some fast-moving showers were set to move through the area late Monday, he said.
Heavier rainfall during the day brought flooding to several areas, according to the California Highway Patrol, including near Sepulveda Boulevard, where news video showed cars splashing through deep water.
A vigorous storm system moved into the Southland on Monday, offering much-needed rain and high-elevation snow to the drought-stricken region — along with the threat of lightning, flash floods, road hazards and small hail.
At least three cars got stuck in waterlogged roadways in valley areas north of Hollywood, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
The storm also prompted closures at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. Six Flags did not open, and Knott’s Berry Farm closed five hours early.
Additional rain and mountain snow were expected through the night, according to the National Weather Service, with heavy snow anticipated above 6,000 feet.
“Be aware of the potential for thunderstorms and small hail,” National Weather Service Los Angeles tweeted.
Thompson said snowfall totals weren’t available Monday evening, and updated rain and snowfall numbers would be available by Tuesday morning.
Even as the worst of the storm passed, danger remained.
A mandatory evacuation order for areas near the Bond fire in Orange County was in effect because of the possibility of debris flows along or near the wildfire burn scar. Affected areas included Silverado and Williams canyons, as well as Modjeska.
A flash flood watch was in place from noon Monday to 1 a.m. Tuesday for several burn scars, including areas near the Apple and El Dorado fires. A winter storm warning was issued over most of the Los Angeles County mountains through 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Firefighters rescued a woman, a man and a dog from the Los Angeles River after initially receiving calls about the woman and her dog in the rain-swollen waterway. The man had jumped into the water in an attempt to bring the dog to shore after the woman was rescued, but multiple attempts to save the dog came up short.
Rescue crews were called about 2:13 p.m. to the river’s Sepulveda Basin, where they saw a woman in the water with her dog, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Firefighters began rescue operations with the water moving at an estimated 5 to 10 mph.
Firefighters spent nearly two hours rescuing a woman, her dog and a man from the Los Angeles River during Monday’s storm.
Crews extricated the woman, but her dog fought a rescuer and broke loose, firefighters said.
At one point, a man jumped into the water to try to save the dog, and crews had to launch a second human rescue operation, firefighters said.
“Ground resources redeployed downriver as the helicopter tracked the dog for a more effective rescue opportunity,” according to the department. “Unfortunately, during this time a bystander entered the water. He was able to grab the dog and they then were swept downstream.”
The man grabbed on to a rope that other bystanders had lowered into the river, authorities said. He was eventually secured by firefighters.
Authorities warned bystanders to stay out of the river, and crews rescued the dog shortly after 4 p.m., firefighters said.
The man who jumped into the water to try to save the dog was taken to a hospital with bite wounds, firefighters said. The woman didn’t require medical transport.
The storm arrived on the heels of California’s driest January and February on record. Many officials had been worried that March — typically the end of the state’s rainy season — would follow suit.
Forecasters Monday said the storm could drop up to 4 inches of rain in mountain areas and 2 inches in the valleys and along the coasts. Eighteen inches of snow may fall above 6,000 feet.
By 6 p.m., preliminary rainfall totals for the last 24 hours showed more than 2 inches in El Deseo and San Marcos Pass in Santa Barbara County, as well as Old Man Mountain in Ventura County.
In Los Angeles County, more than an inch of rain had fallen in Agoura Hills and Woodland Hills as of 6 p.m.
Some Los Angeles coastal and metro areas approached 1 inch, including downtown L.A. and Santa Monica.
The low-pressure system was moving east from off the coast and brought with it a cold front after days of record heat, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Slick conditions on roads and freeways combined with flooding in some areas to make for a tricky commute.
Shortly before 2 p.m., the California Department of Transportation closed the 5 Freeway’s southbound connector to the southbound 110 Freeway and the 110 southbound connectors to the 5 Freeway for flooding and drainage work.
The connectors reopened shortly before 7 p.m., according to Caltrans.
After a record-dry start to 2022, California water officials have slashed State Water Project allocations from 15% to 5%.
Authorities also observed lighting strikes Monday.
The weather service warned residents near Pasadena and Monrovia to stay inside about 5:15 p.m. after lightning in the foothills and mountains.
Southern California has not seen significant rain since December. Monday’s storm marked an unexpectedly wet end to an extremely dry rainy season. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor update, issued Thursday, showed nearly all of California under severe or extreme drought conditions.
While the storm could make a slight dent in the area’s deficits, “we’re still going to be below where we should be,” Kittell said.
“When we look at the drought, which is really taking multiple years, this isn’t going to do a whole lot,” he said. “But it’ll do something.”
Lingering showers from Monday’s system should taper off in Los Angeles County after midnight, the weather service said.
Temperatures Tuesday will jump 8 to 12 degrees in most places as morning clouds give way to sun.
Times staff writer Christian Martinez contributed to this report.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.