Southland rain blankets lower elevations


Many areas across /*Southern California*/ saw a small break from the rain, but a second wave moved in Friday afternoon.

Along the coast, it's rained on and off on Friday.

"This is absolutely refreshing," said Ventura resident Jody Walker. "It's been real warm and beautiful, and the Santa Ana winds. But it's refreshing to have the clouds and the rain rolling in, cleaning things up."

The L.A. County Department of Public Health warned people to avoid swimming and surfing in ocean areas near storm drains, creeks and rivers. The runoff from the storm will head to the ocean, increasing bacteria levels.

Health officials advised people to stay out of the water for at least 72 hours to allow bacteria levels to drop to safe levels.

Heavy rain, strong wind and bitter cold swooped into the Long Beach area on Friday, enough of a blast of wintry weather to encourage some people to stay indoors.

And plastic canopies covered a red carpet in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre as rain blanketed Hollywood.

The storm was a bit of a cleansing agent for Southland streets. But it did little to speed up traffic.

Captain Mark Savage of the L.A. County Fire Department says the key to safe driving is a little planning.

"The roads are much more slippery in the rain, especially the first rain of the year," said Savage. "You need to leave earlier, plan for that extra time because the last thing you need to be doing is rushing while driving in the rain."

The wet conditions made for a hectic commute along the Newhall Pass. It's been dry in the region, so all the oil buildup on the road combined with the rain made it slippery for drivers.

There's a chance of snowfall in the Grapevine Friday evening, which could be a problem for drivers traveling on the 5 Freeway.

But there are some positives with the storm. The wet weather spelled some relief for dried-out hillsides and residents who were concerned about Santa Ana winds and fire conditions.

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