Flash Flood and Mudslide Concerns High as Powerful Storm Moves Into SoCal

A powerful storm system moved into Southern California on Friday night, expected to bring up to seven inches of rain in parts of the region through Saturday evening and prompting fears of flooding and mudslides in recent burn areas.

The storm -- the second in a series forecast to drench the area through early next week --will be the strongest, according to forecasters.

It's the one "where you want to stay home," Lisa Phillips with the National Weather Service told the Los Angeles Times.

At its peak, they system could bring up to an inch of rain per hour, with locally heavier rainfall possible.

Four to seven inches of rains are possible in foothills and mountain areas, while the coast and valleys could be inundated with up to three inches of precipitation, forecasters said.

"Significant flows and flash flooding" are possible, the weather service warned.

Evacuations have already been ordered for the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fire burn areas in Santa Barbara County.

Mandatory evacuation orders have also been issued for the Holy Fire burn area.

Mandatory orders have also been issued for the Ventura Beach RV Resort at 800 West Main Street, which will take effect at 6 p.m., and near Matilija Canyon / Wheeler Springs / North Fork (extending along Oso Road) at 8 p.m., officials said.

Elsewhere, homes along San Antonio Creek are under a voluntary evacuation order beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday.  Those in the south coast of Ventura County should be aware of changing conditions and be ready to evacuated if necessary.

An evacuation center will be open at Nordhoff High School in Ojai beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday.

In Burbank, a voluntary one is expected to go into effect for County Club Drive above Via Montana beginning at 5 a.m. Saturday, officials said. The order was expected to last until 4 p.m., but that's subject to extension if conditions change, according to the city's website.

Other evacuations are also possible.

Flash flood watches have also been put in place for recent burns areas across the Southland through Saturday night, including in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, where risks of mud and debris flow as well as roadway flooding are possible, authorities said.

Officials have said residents in certain should have enough supplies to last at least 7 to 10 days and have an evacuation plan in place. The neighborhoods and streets in L.A. County who should take such precautions include the following:

  • Trancas /Malibu West
  • Malibu Park / Lower Zuma Creek
  • Ramirez Canyon / Paradise Cove
  • Latigo Canyon/ Escondido Drive/ Maguire Drive
  • Malibou Lake / Cornell Road
  • Old Agoura / BalkinsDrive/ Fairview Drive
  • Oak Forest Mobile Estates
  • Decker Canyon / Decker School Lane/ Decker School Road
  • Encinal Canyon from Lechusa to PCH
  • Mulholland from Little Sycamore to PCH

Beyond flooding, however, the storm could pose numerous other problems.

“The impacts we’re looking at are downed trees, travel delays and possible shallow debris flows," Phillips said.

Increased accidents on area roads as well as rockslides on canyon roads are other potential issues, according to forecasters.

In anticipation of the storm, Caltrans has already warned motorists to avoid a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, which was shut down through Malibu for several hours on Thursday due to mud and debris flows.

Additionally, winds are forecast to kick up, with damaging gusts of up to 60 to 80 mph possible in some places.

"Significant wind impacts possible with upcoming storm system late Fri night-Sat including numerous trees and powerlines down, power outages, and difficult driving conditions for high profile vehicles," the weather service tweeted.

The latest storm will bring snow to elevations as low as 5,000 feet. That could be problematic for the Interstate 5 corridor, which has seen the stretch of highway near the Gravepine close multiple times since early December due to snow.

Even if the 5 remains open, the area near the Grapevine is expected to be hit with wind gusts up to 70 to 80 mph, making for potentially dangerous driving conditions, forecasters said.

Two more cold weather systems are expected to follow on Sunday and Monday, bringing more showers to the area, according to the weather service.

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