Winter storm shuts down Grapevine and causes evacuations

A slow winter storm hovering over Los Angeles made a mess of conditions Thursday – causing several major roads and highways to be closed, prompting evacuations near scars from forest burns and requiring water rescues, officials said. .

At least 50 people had to be rescued from Leo Carrillo Campground in Malibu after heavy rains sent a torrent of muddy water through the area, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Geovanni Sanchez.

Apple Valley resident Keith Elvert, 37, had been camping in the area with his wife, children, parents and niece since Tuesday. When he opened the door to his trailer around 3 a.m., “there was two feet of water leaking outside the trailer pretty quickly,” he said.

“It was pretty scary – there were branches and debris, and it was really muddy brown,” Elvert said. “You are enjoying the power of water at this point.”

The family recovered what they could and evacuated by car to a hotel in Thousand Oaks. They hope to return to the caravan on Friday or Saturday to assess the damage.

Sanchez said all campers had been safely evacuated and no injuries were reported during the flooding.

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A storm floods a Malibu campsite

Campers are forced to evacuate as flooding floods Leo Carrillo Campground in Malibu.

Meanwhile, the build-up of ice and snow forced authorities to shut down part of the Grapevine in both directions of the 5 Freeway, the California Highway Patrol said.

The CHP and the California Department of Transportation were alerting drivers of long delays in the area. The 5 northbound was closed at Parker Road in Castaic, where the “snow barrier” was opened to allow drivers to turn around.

5 Southbound was closed at Grapevine Road. There is no estimated time to reopen, officials said.

The freeway serves as the main artery for travel within and outside Los Angeles County. State Route 58 through Tehachapi east open as an alternative route.

Mark Carrow and his granddaughter, Ella Glass, stand by a flooded section of the Leo Carrillo Campground

Mark Carrow and his granddaughter, Ella Glass, stand near a flooded section of Leo Carrillo Campground due to a heavy downpour in Malibu. Carrow and her family were camping at the site when the flooding occurred.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Part of the Pacific Coast Highway at Pacific Palisades was also closed due to rocks and debris on Thursday, Caltrans said.

And at Union Station in downtown LA, several inches of water filled at least one hallway early in the morning.

“I don’t live in LA but I travel often and have never seen so much water in the LA River or at a flooded Union Station,” said Parker Day, who captured video of the water in the river. station.

Day said his Amtrak Coast Starlight train was delayed by about 20 minutes due to flooding.

The National Weather Service said soggy conditions are expected to persist throughout the day, with several weather advisories in place in Southland.

“LA County is going to receive fairly persistent rains throughout the day,” said Mike Wofford, meteorologist with the Oxnard National Weather Service. “It varies from light to heavy, light to heavy, and it’s going to be like that for most of the day. ”

A winter storm warning was in effect in the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties as well as in San Bernardino County, including Big Bear and Wrightwood, where authorities warn of difficult travel conditions with significant reductions in visibility.

Flash flood watches are in effect for the burn areas of Lake, Bobcat, Dam and Ranch 2 until 4 p.m. Thursday, with residents being urged to prepare for possible flooding and debris flows.

“There is still heavy rain to come so they need to be vigilant,” Wofford said.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said residents can pick up ready-to-fill sandbags from any neighborhood fire station, with free sand offered at several locations.

Orange County officials also issued voluntary evacuation orders for Silverado Canyon, Williams Canyon and Modjeska Canyon near the Bond burn area, which expired at 1 p.m.

The heaviest rains are expected to fall over a 30-mile strip covering most of the Los Angeles coast and the San Gabriel Valley, where up to 4 inches could fall. The rest of LA County will likely see 1 to 2 inches.

Precipitation will decrease in southern and eastern LA County, officials said. Little or no rain is expected over San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

But some LA residents said they’ve seen enough already.

“I live in a part of LA where you walk around everywhere,” said Matthew Olivarez, a Koreatown resident. “I mean, I can go out and do stuff, for sure, but it’s such an inconvenience.”

Olivarez said he couldn’t remember seeing such constant rain before. He usually walked to his supermarket, bank, and nearby train station, so he was more than ready for the dry weather to return.

The winter storm also kept temperatures – which are normally in the 1960s at this time of year – well below average. Officials said several records were broken in the Los Angeles area on Wednesday, when maximum temperatures at six stations capped in the 1950s.

The rain also broke a precipitation record at the Meteorological Service’s office in Oxnard, where 2.72 inches of precipitation on Wednesday broke the daily record of 1.58 inches put on December 29, 1951.

Wofford said the storm moved through the area at a fairly normal rate, but then stopped when it reached Los Angeles.

“Most storms, we have six hours of rain and it’s over, but this particular situation is different,” he said. “The offshore depression isn’t really moving; it’s just a kind of moisture funnel in our area.

The rain also caused the Mulholland highway closure in the Santa Monica Mountains between Las Virgenes Road and Cornell Road, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works said. Heavy mudslides and rockfall have littered the pavement, which maintenance crews will work to remove once the heavy rains subside.

A large amount of mud and debris is also blocking the southbound lane of Malibu Canyon Road north of the tunnel. Drivers are advised to exercise caution and avoid mountain roads during rain.

Angeles Crest Highway from State Route 39 to Big Pines has also been closed due to snow and landslides.

A CalTrans traffic camera shows a closed Autoroute 5 in Lebec.

A CalTrans traffic camera shows a closed Autoroute 5 in Lebec.


Southern California was not the only location affected by the storm.

Staggering snowfall crippled much of the Sierra Nevada, with tens of thousands of residents still without electricity as of Thursday morning, according to Pacific Gas and Electric.

Governor Gavin Newsom activated the State Operations Center on Wednesday to monitor storm conditions.

“I strongly encourage all Californians to avoid making the situation worse and to refrain from traveling on mountain roads until conditions improve,” he said.

Interstates 50 and 80, which were closed intermittently this week due to a heavy cover of ice and snow, were only open for essential travel, the California Department of Transportation said, noting that some stations -service run out of fuel and supplies. Snow chains are compulsory.

In one video updateCaltrans director Toks Omishakin urged people not to use the Sierra highways and said there had already been more than $ 22 million in damage from winter storms.

Crews worked around the clock in 12-hour shifts to keep roads passable for essential trips, such as those making critical trips or delivering goods and cargo within the state, he said.

“If this is a trip just to spend time with family and friends, we say stay off the road. The conditions are dangerous, ”he said.

The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab at Donner Pass announced on Wednesday that it had received 264 inches of snow since October 1, breaking a 51-year snowfall record of 260 inches from October to December, set in 1970.

Rain in Southern California is expected to extend by Friday, and although New Years Eve may start with a few showers, the start of the New Year is expected to end in a dry place.

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