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Heavy rain causes local flooding; 4 schools cancel classes

Some residents of Balboa Island in Newport Beach reported flooding in their homes Thursday morning as heavy rain soaked Southern California, leading to scenes in some places of cars submerged on river-like streets as paddleboarders skimmed by.

City crews pumped water from roads on the north side of Balboa Island as flooding also plagued the Balboa Peninsula, where water was deepest between 13th and 15th streets.

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In Costa Mesa, many parts of the city were hit by flooding, with some streets closed until the water receded.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District said four schools halted classes early because of the conditions: Newport Harbor High, Corona del Mar High and Middle and Back Bay High.

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In Laguna Beach, Coast Highway in South Laguna was closed between Third and Ninth avenues due to flooding.

Thursday’s morning burst of rain hit low-lying Balboa Island hard, and high tide, which peaked at 6.1 feet at about 7:45 a.m., didn’t help. Video posted to social media showed one home with flooding in its basement deep enough to submerge a pool table.

Above ground, city crews in hooded neon-green coveralls pumped water into the bay on the north side of the island between Diamond and Apolena avenues, where standing water remained ankle-deep in spots as the tide receded in the afternoon.

Crews pump floodwater from North Bay Front just east of Sapphire Avenue on the north side of Balboa Island in Newport Beach on Thursday.
Crews pump floodwater from North Bay Front just east of Sapphire Avenue on the north side of Balboa Island in Newport Beach on Thursday. (Photo by Hillary Davis)

Marine Avenue, the island’s commercial artery, had more darkened storefronts than open shops. Even the usually bustling Starbucks was quiet when UPS driver Mel Sievers ducked in for a quick lunch break.

Sievers apologized to the baristas about the wet spot he left around his seat. They didn’t mind, and he couldn’t help it, as he’d been delivering on the drenched island for about four hours and was about to head out for more.

He described rainwater overflowing the curbs on Agate Avenue on the island and spewing from a manhole like a geyser on Bayside Drive just across the channel on the mainland.

He said he hadn’t seen rain like that in this area in 25 years.

The city of Newport Beach reported at about 11:30 a.m. that northbound lanes of Jamboree Road near San Joaquin Hills Road were closed because of a traffic collision and flooding. The closure was lifted after several hours.

Newport Beach spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said residents can receive up to 10 unfilled sand bags from the city to help with flood control. The bags will be available from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the city corporation yard, 592 Superior Ave.

The Costa Mesa Police Department posted a photo on Facebook of vehicles submerged in floodwater at 17th Street and Pomona Avenue on Thursday afternoon.
The Costa Mesa Police Department posted a photo on Facebook of vehicles submerged in floodwater at 17th Street and Pomona Avenue on Thursday afternoon. (Costa Mesa Police Department)

The city of Costa Mesa reported flooding with water depths of 2 to 4 feet at 19th Street and Anaheim Avenue, 19th and Park Drive, 18th Street and Anaheim Avenue and 17th Street and Pomona Avenue. Several vehicles were submerged in floodwater at 17th and Pomona.

The city said its facilities at Lions Park had been closed the rest of the day because of flooding.

Sandbags are available for residents at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive, the city said.

Flooding caused the closure Thursday afternoon of Coast Highway in South Laguna between Third and Ninth avenues, according to a tweet from the Laguna Beach Police Department.
Flooding caused the closure Thursday afternoon of Coast Highway in South Laguna between Third and Ninth avenues, according to a tweet from the Laguna Beach Police Department. (Laguna Beach Police Department)

The ferocity of the rain that rolled into the area overnight and continued into Thursday caught forecasters by surprise. The storm, which began with scattered showers Wednesday, was predicted to be much weaker.

“Yesterday, the difference was we had east winds that were drying things out, so not much rain was falling,” Keily Delerme, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Thursday. “Today, those winds have weakened, and it’s allowing for more rain to fall.”

The storm is expected to linger through early Friday and drop up to an inch and a half of rain on much of the region, forecasters said.

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

Guide dogs in training at Hope View Elementary School in Huntington Beach wear their rain jackets during Thursday’s storm in this photo tweeted by the Ocean View School District.
Guide dogs in training at Hope View Elementary School in Huntington Beach wear their rain jackets during Thursday’s storm in this photo tweeted by the Ocean View School District. (Ocean View School District)
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