Southern California residents were scrambling late Wednesday to prepare for what forecasters were predicting to be the wettest rain event in almost two years.
The first storm arrived in Southern California on Wednesday evening. It was the first of two back-to-back storms that were expected to bring heavy showers overnight and into Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
That storm was forecast to bring up to an inch of rain in the coastal and valley areas. Snow levels should stay relatively high at about 7,000 feet Wednesday.
A second storm was slated to arrive late Thursday and continue until late Saturday, according to the weather service.
The second, more powerful storm, could bring up to 2 1/2 inches of rain to the coasts and valleys, with nearly 4 inches dropping in the mountains.
Snow levels could fall as low as 5,000 feet by Friday night, according to forecasters.
Residents in the San Gabriel Mountain foothill neighborhoods were also protecting themselves against the possibility of flooding mudslides Wednesday.
Hillsides around the area burned by last month’s nearly 2,000-acre Colby Fire and other wildfires last year, as well as the devastating 2009 Station Fire, have not recovered and pose a danger during rains, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.
“The hills no longer have vegetation or trees or shrubs to prevent erosion,” said department spokesman Kerjon Lee in a post on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s blog. “The upper crust of the soil has been scorched, so it’s less absorbent. Water runs across it as if it had a wax surface.”
Officials in Glendora declared an “orange-level” emergency alert Wednesday due to concerns that mud and water could flow into residential areas below Colby Fire burn areas, according to a press release from the Glendora Police Department.
Under the city’s emergency alert, police ordered voluntary evacuations. Residents were also asked to remove vehicles, trash bins and other obstructions from the streets to allow emergency vehicles to get through.
An evacuation center was set up at the Crowther Teen and Family Center located at 241 W. Dawson Ave. (map)
The Inland Valley Humane Society was expected to be at the evacuation center to assist with small animals. Horses and large animals should be taken to Gate #1 at the Pomona Fairplex (map), authorities said.
Sandbags could be obtained at the City Yard located at 440 S. Loraine Ave. (map)
The U.S. Forest Service advised Glendora Mountain Road will be closed beginning 8:00 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 through noon Monday, March 3.
The Azusa Police Department has set up a website to keep residents up to date on news, information, safety tips and weather alerts.
Meanwhile, in other areas of the mountain foothills, homeowners that saw damage in 2010 — after a downpour following the Station Fire triggered mudslides — were likewise preparing for the storm.
“Every time it rains really bad I always get a little nervous,” said Rick Frazier, whose La Canada Flintridge home saw the doors blown open by mudslides in a post-fire 2011 storm.
Fire stations in La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta were providing sandbags to people at the following fire stations:
- Fire Station 19, located at 1729 W. Foothill Blvd. (map)
- Fire Station 82, located at 352 N. Foothill Blvd. (map)
- Fire Station 63, located at 4526 N. Ramsdell Ave. (map)
All residents were asked by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to make sure car wiper blades, headlamps, brakes and tires were all in good working condition.
Drivers should also be aware that roads are the most slippery when it first starts to rain because oil and dust have not yet washed away, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
KTLA’s Melissa Pamer and Kareen Wynter contributed to this article.