Storms that caused deadly Southern California mudslides push north

Thunderstorms that wreaked havoc in portions of the mountains and deserts of San Bernardino County have headed north, forecasters said, giving residents a chance to recover from flash floods that killed one person and left thousands temporarily stranded

The system of thick, slow-moving storms is headed into the Sierra Nevada, which have been hit hard in recent months by wildfires, said National Weather Service senior forecaster Andrew Rourke.

Fortunately for those fire-scarred areas, the system has “lost a little of its punch,” Rourke said.

On Sunday, the thunderstorms dropped 3 1/2-4 1/2 inches of rain in a matter of hours in the Mt. Baldy and Bear Creek areas, clogging key access roads with rocks and mud, submerging cars and prompting “shelter in place” orders for at least 3,000 people.

One person was killed in the Bear Creek area when debris swept a car off a roadway and into a swollen creek, authorities said.


In the Mt. Baldy area, debris flows headed toward homes and creeks swelled into rivers, submerging cars. One group rescued by emergency crews had been trapped in a home that was threatened by flooding and moving debris.

Two people were rescued from fast-moving water and were not injured, officials said. A shelter was established at a community center.

The community of Forest Falls was particularly hard-hit. Valley of the Falls Drive was blocked by debris and a bridge was washed out, and it’s “one road in, one road out,” San Bernardino County Fire Capt. Josh Wilkins said.

One man in Forest Falls was forced to escape a debris flow by climbing a tree.

Several people rescued from fast-flowing water were treated for hypothermia, officials said. Most vehicles that were submerged in streams or floods were searched and found to be empty, they said.

The first days of August have been surprisingly wet in Southern California, with unusual humidity and showers throughout the region.

Rourke said more-pleasant weather was expected this week. A marine layer is forecast to decrease humidity and drop temperatures into the 70s along the coast, with 80s downtown and in the deserts.

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