California storm: After 5 days, the rain has stopped. In its wake, 9 dead, a trail of destruction

Two people in orange jackets and pants stand on a fallen, giant tree.
L.A. Department of Water and Power crew members survey a eucalyptus tree that took down power lines in the 600 block of North Bundy Drive in Brentwood on Tuesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

After five straight days, it stopped raining in California on Thursday.

The statewide death toll from the mega atmospheric river storm climbed to nine on Tuesday, and it included the first storm-related deaths in Southern California. Four were killed by fallen trees in Northern California and two died in car wrecks in the Southland, officials said.

Five U.S. Marines aboard a military helicopter that went down during stormy weather in the mountains outside San Diego are confirmed dead, a Marine commander said. It is not known whether the treacherous conditions played a role.

The deadly storm that smashed records in Southern California, with mud and debris flows inundating roads and forcing evacuations, is finally on the horizon after a smaller system brought some downpours and flash flooding warnings to the region Wednesday night. An inch of rain fell in some higher elevations and a quarter- or half-inch in Los Angeles County, which pushed five-day rainfall totals even higher, hitting more than 14 inches in some places, including Topanga and Cogswell Dam north of Monrovia, according to Mike Wofford, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard.

As of Thursday morning, downtown L.A. had received 9.03 inches since Saturday — more than half its average yearly rainfall of 14.25.

Southern California was hit hard Tuesday as the storm continued to linger over the region. The storm continued its push, two days after it parked itself over the L.A. metropolitan area, jump-starting what the National Weather Service called “one of the most dramatic weather days in recent memory.” It has caused flooding and mudslides — some of which ruined homes and forced evacuations.

As of Wednesday evening, L.A. authorities had responded to 562 mudslides, with more than 45 homes or buildings damaged by debris flows, including 15 homes that were red-tagged, according to Mayor Karen Bass’ office.

Evacuation orders or warnings were put in place in L.A., Ventura, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in eight Southland counties: L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

The storm packed a wallop across California, including flooding, water rescues, damaging winds and knocking out power in the San Francisco Bay Area and down the Central Coast.

About 1.4 million Pacific Gas & Electric customers statewide lost power during the storm. The bulk of the outages have affected Northern California, where powerful wind gusts toppled trees, sending them crashing onto electrical equipment and into homes.

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