New storm triggers evacuations across Southern California


Authorities in several Southern California communities issued evacuation orders Tuesday as a new round of rain soaked the region, causing minor roadway floods and downed trees.

The third in a series of storms triggered the mandatory evacuation of about 300 homes nestled in the steep Malibu canyons amid the Woolsey fire burn area, but didn’t bring as much rain as expected.

“We didn’t get as much rain today as we thought we would,” said Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “The evacuations were for today’s storm that didn’t pan out.”


Although the Malibu evacuation order was in place overnight, authorities said they would reassess the forecast early Wednesday.

Weather officials said the rain would pick back up during rush hour Wednesday morning, with heavier bands coming in by the afternoon. But the heaviest rain is expected from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, when a wide swath of Los Angeles County could see between 1.5 and 3 inches of rain, with potentially higher amounts in the mountains, Hoxsie said.

“At this point, we’re thinking it’s going to be below the threshold for having mud and debris flow,” Hoxsie said. That’s because the rainfall will be slow and steady, not a deluge.

On Tuesday, at a low-lying part of the Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park in Malibu, near where Ramirez Canyon Creek dumps into the Pacific Ocean, a small platoon of deputies with clipboards pounded on doors, presenting forms to residents who would not leave.

“I don’t like hearing those rain accounts for the next 48 hours. But I have lived here since 1971, and there has been a lot of rain over the years,” said resident Julie Sturgess after signing the declaration she wouldn’t evacuate.

Sturgess said the nearby creek had been improved over the years to include concrete elements. She said she heard debris start to come down the creek but was not planning to leave.

Chris Frost, a veteran firefighter and longtime Paradise Cove resident who serves on the city’s Public Safety Commission, said the rain will test the city’s limits when it comes to handling mud and debris.

Most people will get out of the area if the creek crests, Frost said, adding that Ramirez Canyon is dangerous because debris flows could block roads and prevent residents from leaving.

“Those folks should get out now,” he said.

Schools were closed Tuesday and scheduled to be closed Wednesday in Malibu because of the rains, and the city opened its emergency operations center at 6 a.m. Evacuation centers were opened at Santa Monica High School’s south gym and the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center, and shelters for large animals opened at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center and Pierce College.

The weather service issued a flood advisory for western Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Tuesday night. A flash-flood watch was issued for recent burn areas of the Woolsey, Hill, Thomas and Whittier fires for the same time.

In Burbank, officials issued a mandatory evacuation notice for homes along Country Club Drive above Via Montana beginning at noon Tuesday. The notice was changed to voluntary about 9 p.m.

Farther north, in Santa Clarita, Six Flags Magic Mountain closed for the day, blaming inclement weather.

In Ventura County, school officials said four schools were closed because of heavy rain: Ventura High School, Cabrillo Middle School, De Anza Academy of Technology and the Arts Middle School, and Loma Vista Elementary School.

Ventura County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for the entire Bell Canyon community at the eastern end of the county as well as specific homes in the Oak Park neighborhood, unincorporated areas near Thousand Oaks and the Sage Mountain Senior Living Facility near Newbury Park.

Evacuations also were ordered for homes east of Highway 33 near Casitas Springs as well as along Matilija Road and Highway 33 near the Wheeler Springs area north of Ojai.

Although Monday’s storm closed a portion of Pacific Coast Highway and a section of the 5 Freeway known as the Grapevine — both of which reopened later in the day — few major roads were affected Tuesday. But a 29-mile stretch of Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest was closed because of snow.

The storm was bringing plenty of snow to the state, with the potential for dangerous mountain conditions. The Sierra Avalanche Center issued an avalanche watch for the Central Sierra Nevada, including the Tahoe Basin. Avalanche danger is expected to rise to high following a forecast of heavy snow and wind through Friday morning.

In Northern California, forecasters issued a flood watch for Butte County, including the Camp fire burn area, that will take effect Wednesday afternoon. An evacuation warning was to be in effect for the community of Pulga from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said.

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