Powerful storm hits Southern California, flooding highway

Published 02-02-2019

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - The second in a string of powerful storms battered California on Saturday, shutting a key highway after water and mud rushed into lanes from bare hillsides in wildfire burn areas that are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The system could bring 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain in some areas, 10-foot waves in the Pacific and several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges.

Wind and flash flood warnings were issued in the southern part of the state after being lifted for the San Francisco Bay Area.

A wind gust in Santa Barbara County topped 80 mph (128 kph) as the storm moved south and later dropped more than a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) of rain in five minutes.

In the Montecito area of Santa Barbara County, several miles of U.S 101, a vital route between Los Angeles and points north and west, were closed because of flooding.

Elsewhere in the Santa Barbara County area, evacuations were ordered or recommended for neighborhoods near the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fire scars.

"This is a dangerous situation," the National Weather Service said, warning that high rates of rain could send boulders sluicing down denuded hillsides along with the mud and debris.

It has only been a little over a year since a downpour on the huge Thomas Fire burn scar unleashed a massive debris flow that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in the seaside community of Montecito. The disaster killed 21 people, and two others have never been found.

Multiple accidents were reported on slick highways, including a crash on Interstate 5 that killed a volunteer member of a sheriff's search and rescue team and injured several others.

The team from Ventura County was on its way to a training exercise when memb

"This is a dangerous situation," the National Weather Service said, warning that high rates of rain could send boulders sluicing down denuded hillsides along with the mud and debris.

It has only been a little over a year since a downpour on the huge Thomas Fire burn scar unleashed a massive debris flow that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in the seaside community of Montecito. The disaster killed 21 people, and two others have never been found.

Multiple accidents were reported on slick highways, including a crash on Interstate 5 that killed a volunteer member of a sheriff's search and rescue team and injured several others.

The team from Ventura County was on its way to a training exercise when members stopped to help at the scene of a single-vehicle rollover crash.

A minivan carrying a family was traveling too fast for the wet conditions, lost control and plowed into members of the team, Los Angeles County fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda told KABC-TV. Nine people were transported to hospitals, including a member of the rescue team who was in critical condition.

"This is a very unfortunate situation that could've been avoided," Imbrenda said, warning motorists to slow down in the rain.

In Malibu, where the Woolsey fire last year destroyed homes, residents barricaded their properties with sandbags. Many canyon roads were closed because of flooding and motorists were urged to avoid the area.

In the Holy Jim fire area southeast of Los Angeles, where an August blaze sc

Multiple accidents were reported on slick highways, including a crash on Interstate 5 that killed a volunteer member of a sheriff's search and rescue team and injured several others.

The team from Ventura County was on its way to a training exercise when members stopped to help at the scene of a single-vehicle rollover crash.

A minivan carrying a family was traveling too fast for the wet conditions, lost control and plowed into members of the team, Los Angeles County fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda told KABC-TV. Nine people were transported to hospitals, including a member of the rescue team who was in critical condition.

"This is a very unfortunate situation that could've been avoided," Imbrenda said, warning motorists to slow down in the rain.

In Malibu, where the Woolsey fire last year destroyed homes, residents barricaded their properties with sandbags. Many canyon roads were closed because of flooding and motorists were urged to avoid the area.

In the Holy Jim fire area southeast of Los Angeles, where an August blaze scoured tens of thousands of acres in the Cleveland National Forest, volunteers using heavy equipment removed debris and deepened a creek bed to help prevent flooding.

The National Park Service warned visitors to Yosemite National Park of possible road closures and strongly advised drivers to bring tire chains in the event of snow or icy conditions.

Winter storm warnings were in place for the Sierra Nevada along with avalanche warnings on the Nevada side of the range. The Sierra is already loaded with snow from a series of storms in January. The weather service said areas could see accumulations of up to 10 feet (3 meters) over the next few days as a series of storms blew through.

Numerous areas of the state were under warnings for high winds.

The weather service lifted flash-flood watches for areas burned by the Mendocino Complex, Camp and Carr wildfires in Northern California. About an inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain was recorded in the San Francisco Bay Area before the storm moved through early Saturday.

Two cold weather systems will follow on Sunday and Monday, bringing additional widespread showers and snow, forecasters said.

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