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Rain, snow descend on Southern California

A strong storm system is bringing heavy rain across the Southland and snow in the mountains.

February 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A strong storm system is bringing heavy rain across the Southland and snow in the mountains.

Residents in the burn areas including La Crescenta and La Canada Flintridge have prepared for the rain, guarding their homes with K-rails and plenty of sandbags to divert the debris and water if the rain pours down at high speed.

Heavy downpours hit the burn areas last year, but since then, debris basins have been cleared out and expanded, in some cases, to hold any potential debris and mud flow.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood of Highland in the Inland Empire recently started to get geared up for the forecasted rain. The area was hit hard by wet weather in December. Crews covered many hillsides with plastic to rein in falling debris once the rain hits.

In the foothill communities, about 1 to 3 inches of rain is expected. A flash flood watch was scheduled to go into effect starting noon Friday and last through Saturday night. The National Weather Service estimated the rainfall rate to possibly exceed 1 inch per hour.

In Sierra Madre, signs displayed a green warning were changed to yellow warnings Friday.

"Green flag is just prepare yourself, get ready for something coming," said Sierra Madre resident Andy Dotson. "The yellow flag means that everybody actually has to get their vehicles off the road and have it clear for emergency vehicles when they come up here."

Firefighters may call in extra crews this weekend depending on the need.

"We have strike teams available that we can bring up here to bring more manpower in should there be a need for sandbag placement or to expedite some type of evacuation," said L.A. County Fire Battalion Chief Mitch Brookheyser. "We don't anticipate an evacuation, but in case that was needed, we want to be prepared."

Burn area residents have kept their fingers crossed that they've already seen the worst.

"It's nice to see the rain now that it's green again. I think the worst of the water and the rocks coming down is pretty much over," said La Crescenta resident Thad Wiley.

"I don't mind the rain because where I live, rain is an asset. I live by Monte Vista so we're not up high into the hills," said another La Crescenta resident Francee Miller. "We get the benefit of the beauty of it but we don't suffer from the mud slides and things, so I don't mind at all."

In the local mountains including Big Bear, the storm is expected to dump a lot of fresh snow to the area, especially above 5,000 feet.

The NWS predicted high winds, thunderstorms and hail across the Southland as well as dangerous rip currents at local beaches.