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A Lot Of Stormwater Goes To The Ocean. One LA Park Shows How We Can Hold On To It

On the left of frame a person with a black coat and tan umbrella walks towards an orange bus that reads "78 Downtown LA." The light from the bus shines on the heavy rain in the air.
A passenger boards a Metro bus in the rain in Alhambra on January 9, 2023.
(Brian Feinzimer
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On Monday night, I decided to brave the storm to grab groceries and an umbrella from a nearby Target. Dear reader, they were OUT! I left Target in the chilly, rainy weather without anything to cover my head. Hopefully, you were able to grab one for me because more rain is expected this weekend.

Record Rain

This latest storm dropped a stunning amount of rain on the region. From Monday afternoon to about 3 p.m. on Tuesday, a 36-hour span, National Weather Service meteorologists said two to five inches of rain hit the coasts and valleys. Pasadena got a little more than five inches. Hollywood Hills had six inches. The mountains did not disappoint. Opids Camp, typically one of the wettest spots in L.A. County, had more than 11 inches of rainfall. But as we told you yesterday, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties was hit the hardest with more than 18 inches of rainfall, flooding streets, creeks and river banks and forcing evacuations.

Two men one wearing a blue jacket and the other a black jacket hold their phones as they look out towards the stormy and debris filled ocean water. A pier can be seen out of focus in the background.
Two people stand on the shore line at Surfers Point at Seaside Park during a break in the storm in Ventura.
(Ashley Balderrama
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Just to get a sense of how wild this weather has been, check out some of these visuals my LAist colleagues collected from around Southern California. Yesterday, CalTrans and contractors in Montecito were working to clear the roads from mud, rocks and debris after flooding. My colleague Robert Garrova went to Surfers Point in Ventura early on Tuesday to check on the impacts of the overflowing Ventura River. Here in L.A., there was so much rain that Union Station flooded.

A tumultuous muddy river flows towards a bridge with train tracks. The stands of the bridge in the water are full of drift wood and debris.  In the background there are foggy green hills and farmland.
The bridge of train tracks on the Ventura River collect debris and mud from upstream.
(Ashley Balderrama

“We probably haven’t seen a storm this strong since January 2005,” Todd Hall, an NWS meteorologist, told me.

Where Does All The Rain Go?

Things are returning to some sense of normal. Evacuation orders have been lifted in places like Montecito and some roads have reopened. But after all this rain, one of the main questions a lot of you have asked is how much of it we’ve been able to capture and save for later use.

The short answer is not a lot right now. A lot of it still goes to the ocean. But don’t get discouraged. L.A. County does plan on doubling the amount of rainwater captured annually.

A lake on a sunny day. Ducks float on the water's surface and there are green reeds growing in the water.
A drain releases treated stormwater into a manmade lake in Willowbrook's Earvin "Magic" Johnson Park.
(Mariana Dale

It’s just going to take some time. One example of how it could work in the future is Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park, in the Willowbrook neighborhood of L.A.

I love running at this park when I’m training for big races, but little did I know the lake here was being used for capturing stormwater. Want to know how capturing, cleaning and storing millions of gallons of water works?

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Well, my colleague Mariana Dale has all of that information in her latest story about this stormwater capture project. Read her story and learn about how L.A. County created a plan to update the park and utilize its natural resources.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding. 

  • On the heels of Los Angeles city, the county of L.A. has declared a state of emergency over homelessness. The goal is to improve coordination with the city and decrease the amount of time it takes to get people off the street. 
  • On Tuesday the Los Angeles Police Commission heard public testimony over whether to appoint L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore. Most of that were people voicing opposition.   
  • Roads have been very treacherous during all this rain with slick roads and flooded freeways. Here’s a few things to think about before you get behind the wheel when it's stormy. 
  • Rep. Katie Porter announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein even though Feinstein has not formally announced her retirement. In announcing her plans Tuesday, Porter got ahead of other interested parties who could potentially run, stating “California needs a warrior in the Senate.” (Politico
  • California is facing a $22.5 billion budget shortfall. Here’s how Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to address the deficit. He says the state will still fulfill earlier spending promises in areas of education, climate and transportation, though small cuts will be made to those programs.
  • There’s a new, apparently more virulent strain of the omicron variant going around. But these days life must go on. Here’s a few tips to avoid getting COVID-19 if you have to get on a plane and travel. 
  • The agency that oversees the federal government’s student loan portfolio is in the middle of a funding crisis. Still, the Biden administration unveiled an ambitious student loan repayment plan that is designed to ease the process for those holding the debt. It’s unclear when it could take effect.
  • The wait is over for those of you who wanted to know who’s headlining Coachella this year. Bad Bunny, Frank Ocean and BLACKPINK top the list. The music festival will be at the Empire Polo Club in Indio April 14-16 and 21-23.

Please note: We told you yesterday about P-22’s celebration of life at the Greek Theatre on Feb. 4. We realize now that tickets are sold out. We are sorry about that but check back here to see if more become available.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

Wait... One More Thing

The Badass Death-Defying Ladies of Early 20th Century L.A.

A sepia toned photograph shows a group of women in different outfits from the 1930s standing outside in a line smiling at the camera
Pancho Barnes stands with other participants of the Powder Puff Derbry that took place in Long Beach in 1930.
(SDASM archive, Public Domain)

If you ask any of my friends or family members to tell you one word to describe me, I think many of them would say I am one brave chick. I’ve ziplined across a cruise boat, swam in the Pacific Ocean without knowing how to swim (with a life jacket, of course) and skydived from nearly 13,000 feet. With that said, it is my pleasure to take you along on this very special ride in my yellow DeLorean lowrider coupe to visit some of my daredevil foremothers of Los Angeles. Hop in!

Let’s start on Independence Day in 1888 when Mrs. Van Tassel of San Francisco parachuted from a balloon in downtown L.A. She’s known to be potentially the first woman to make such an audacious leap…and she apparently always dreamed of falling “immense distances.” That’s wild, but I get it (wink).

Even though back in the early 20th century, there were huge barriers for pretty much anyone who was not white and/or male, there were brave women who gave a big middle finger to societal gender norms. They performed stunts in silent films, raced cars and soared in the air as pilots.

Learn about stuntwoman Helen Holmes, race car driver Nina Vitagliano, jazz performer-turned-pioneer aviator Marie Dickerson Coker and more fearless women in Hadley Meares’ latest article about the daredevils of early 20th century L.A.

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