This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
The first day of spring got off to a wet start in Southern California Wednesday as a cold weather system brought wild weather to the region, including torrential downpours, thunderstorms, lightning and hail. Nonstop rain drenched the Compton area for nearly 2 hours after noon, dropping more than 3/4 inches of rain in the span of an hour. By late afternoon, a total of 1.57 inches was reported at Compton Creek, according to the National Weather Service. The heavy rain caused widespread flooding along a stretch of the 710 freeway from Del Amo Boulevard to the 91 Freeway. CHP had to shut down north and southbound lanes just before 2:30 p.m. as the road became inundated with floodwaters, according to the California Highway Patrol’s incident log. Shortly before 4 p.m., traffic was completely jammed in the area, Sky5 video showed. Some vehicles appeared to be stuck in the submerged roadway, including one sedan that was pushed out of the water by a big rig, according to the aerial footage. The 710’s lanes were closed for several hours but reopened just before 6 p.m., Caltrans said. In Carson, the roof of a large commercial building apparently partially collapsed around 2:30 p.m. after becoming flooded from the rain, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Personnel was evacuated from the structure, which is located in the 1500 block of East Del Amo Boulevard. Elsewhere, a burst of heavy rain dropped nearly a third of an inch of rain to the San Gabriel River between 10:45 and 10:50 a.m., according to the weather service. KTLA viewer videos captured hail falling in areas including Long Beach, Glendale, Woodland Hills, Lake Balboa and elsewhere. Lightning was also reported in several parts of Los Angeles Ventura counties, including the San Fernando Valley and an area north of Santa Paula. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue through the evening in the southwest part of the state, according to the forecasters. Prior to the storm’s arrival, the weather service warned that thunderstorms could bring brief heavy downpours and small hail across the region. Ventura County, along with San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, could receive .10 to .75 inch of rain, forecasters said. Los Angeles was expected to get less at .01 to .25 inch. Snow levels can drop to 5,000 to 6,000 feet, possibly falling to 4,000 feet on Thursday morning. That can affect traffic on the Interstate 5 over the Grapevine, forecasters warned. The damp kickoff to spring follows the announcement that California, which experienced a very wet winter, is free of drought for the first time since 2011.