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Record-breaking rainfall hits Southern California


The third in a series of powerful winter storms hit Southern California on Sunday, January 22, 2017, with record-breaking rainfall. The storm downed trees, flooded numerous roads and freeways, caused new mudslides and rockslides, and stranded people in rising waters. At least 4 people have died and three are missing.

Evacuation orders were issued for burn areas in Glendora, Duarte, Silverado Canyon in Orange County and parts of Santa Barbara County before the storm hit. According to the Los Angeles Times, the storms hit Sunday afternoon (local) time and the coastal areas of Los Angeles County were among the hardest hit.

A record rainfall of 98.29 mm (3.97 inches) was measured at Long Beach Airport. This broke the old record of 52.32 mm (2.06 inches) set in 1967, and also set an all-time daily rainfall record for Long Beach Airport. The previous all-time record was 95.25 mm (3.75 inches) set on January 4, 1995.

A record rainfall of 70.61 mm (2.78 inches) was set at Los Angeles Airport Sunday. This broke the old record of 49.27 mm (1.94 inches) set in 1983.

Camarillo also broke its record with 70.86 mm (2.79 inches). The previous record of was 26.92 mm (1.06 inches) set in 1997.

In Orange County, many places received between 50.8 and 88.9 mm (2 and 3.5 inches) of rain within 6 hours.

A new wave height record was set in the Monterey Bay on Saturday with 10.39 m (34.12 feet). The previous record was 9.99 m (32.8 feet), set in 2008, the NWS said. The remains of a historic WWI-era concrete ship docked near Santa Cruz, the S.S. Palo Alto, were torn apart.

The strongest wind gusts were reported in Camp Nine 133.6 km/h (83 mph), Chilao 101.4 km/h (63 mph), Grass Mtn 99.8 km/h (62 mph), and Lake Palmdale 95 km/h (59 mph).

The Sierra Avalanche Center has warned there is a “high avalanche danger” at all elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountains because of heavy snowfall that has closed several ski resorts. The authorities advised against travel in the area, warning of intense snowfall rates and gale force winds.

NWS meteorologist Brett Albright said the storm dumped as much as 101.6 mm (4 inches) of rain in some places. "Today was very intense. It’s not a normal event. It was definitely a culmination of the perfect circumstances: We had a very intense atmospheric river with a lot of moisture and an area of lift in the atmosphere right over coastal Los Angeles and Orange counties. It forced all of that moisture out.”

“It’s not often we see higher rainfall totals on the coast than in the mountains,” Albright said.

LA Times said rockslides closed roads in Malibu and other coastal mountain areas. In Isla Vista, a cliff and a patio collapsed into the ocean. Rescuers had to evacuate 15 to 20 residents of ocean-front apartment units, a spokesperson for the County of Santa Barbara said. A homeless encampment off of the Pacific Coast Highway in the Harbor City neighborhood was submerged in several feet of water. Sunday afternoon, both the 110 Freeway in Carson and the 710 Freeway in Long Beach were shutdown due to extreme flooding that left cars stranded like islands in a lake. Rockslides closed roads in Malibu and other coastal mountain areas.

Firefighters in San Bernardino County staged a dramatic swift-water rescue of a couple whose pickup truck was trapped in surging water west of the Cajon Pass. Television footage showed rescue crews sending a raft, which was anchored to a fire truck, into rushing brown water so the trapped couple could climb aboard, one by one, from the car's passenger window, the ABC reported.

At least four people have died and three are still missing as of late Monday.

Pomona Police Department said a motorist died in Ponoma amid heavy rain when he lost control and smashed into a telephone pole.

A 36-year-old woman was killed while she slept when a 125-foot-tall oak tree was uprooted and crashed through her home Saturday morning, the Ukiah Valley Fire Officials said. Another woman (23) died after she and a companion were swept away by high surf near San Diego Saturday.

Officials raised the death toll to 4 after a body was found Monday in the Harbor City area of Los Angeles.

The bad weather is expected to continue until Tuesday, although not as bad. Between 101.6 and 152.4 mm (4 and 6 inches) can be expected, mostly in the foothil and mountain areas.

Between October 1, 2016 and January 23, 2017, downtown Los Angeles has received more than 343.40 mm (13.52 inches) of rain, which is 216% of normal rainfall to date of 159 mm (6.26 inches), NWS Los Angeles said.

Featured image: Hasley Canyon Rd at Del Valle in Val Verde closed due to local flooding. Credit: LA County Public Works


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  1. I thought a few years back in California all the drought was caused by man. Global warming. We were to blame. Wow you can have climate change that happens natural. Guess we don’t need to be taxed on carbon after all!

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