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Latest storm pummels SoCal w/rain, hail, snow

April 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A spring storm hit Southern California overnight, soaking hillsides in the local burn areas and raising the risk for mudslides. So far, there is no sign of any serious problems and residents are relieved to see their precautionary measures paying off.

Rain was heavy at times and water rushed along the streets in La Canada Flintridge Sunday night, once again testing the barricades put in place to protect homes. After the rain subsided Monday morning, it was clear that all of the preparations paid off. The storm did not cause any serious problems this time around.

Sandbags and K-rails were in place to divert water and debris away from properties. More protection was added by many homeowners a couple of months ago after a powerful storm dumped several inches of rain on hillsides burned by the Station Fire, causing significant damage to homes and vehicles.

Mud and debris flowed along the streets, sweeping away vehicles and slamming into several houses. Some homes were completely destroyed and many were badly damaged.

"Because the mud goes all the way to the back, it's been sitting there from the time the mudslides happened. So now, we're cleaning up from the back all the way to the front," said one La Canada Flintridge resident who is repairing his damaged home.

Such homes serve as vivid reminders to residents as to why precautions like K-rails and sandbags are necessary. They've been in place since the last set of powerful storms that hit a couple of months ago, and authorities say they'll probably stick around for about a year.

Residents were nervous as the latest spring storm approached, but many hoped the work they've done with keep their homes safe.

"We were hoping it was spring and we'd just have a little bit of drizzle here and there, move onto summer, but that's not the case," said La Canada Flintridge resident Olivia Brown. "There's always that anxiety when you hear big weather coming in, but then there's that offside chance that it's going to be nothing and there's the small percent that it could, so the anxiety's always there."

As showers moved through the area during the nighttime hours, crews from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works were out on patrol, keeping an eye on the debris basins.

As a precaution, Los Angeles Public Works Department officials closed all county roads in the Station Fire burn area to the public. Angeles Forest Highway from Aliso Canyon Road to Angeles Crest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Vogel Flats to Angeles Forest Highway, and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Angeles Forest Highway to Angeles Crest Highway, were closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles. Residents living in the burn areas were not allowed back on the roads until the closures were lifted Monday at noon. Although the roads were reopened, DWP warns drivers to expect intermittent delays as repairs are still ongoing.

'No Parking During Rain Event' restrictions are still enforced on posted streets in La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta. Parking will not be allowed on those streets as well as any forest roads until further notice, and parked vehicles will be subject to citation and towing.

Though the storm didn't cause any major problems Sunday night through Monday morning, residents here say they can't afford to let their guard down because they know that every new storm brings back the danger of mudslides.

The latest wet weather also brought hail into the mix, pummeling pea-sized icy beads to parts of Southern California Monday afternoon. The sudden hail storm created an almost zero-visibility situation for drivers on the 210 Freeway, causing multiple accidents. Fortunately, injuries were minimal.

Local mountains also felt the storm's reach, with dangerous mountain roads slick from ice and snow. Weather-related accidents abounded Monday, as many don't heed CHP instructions to slow down and carry chains.


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