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Strong Winds And Heavy Rainfall in L.A. Led To Flooding. Here’s What’s Next

A large puddle along a sidewalk, with the LA skyline the background
The downtown L.A. skyline from Elysian Park after the storm on Jan. 5, 2023.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
/
LAist)
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I hope you’ve been able to stay dry during these last couple of windy, rainy and chilly weeks. As it turns out, yesterday’s big winter storm peaked sooner in Southern California than originally forecasted by meteorologists, so it wasn't as bad as predicted. Much ado has been made about all this rain we’re having here L.A. because we’ve been so dry for so long, but it could just be shaping up to be an average rainy season.

After The Recent Storm

I spoke to Joe Sirard, a National Weather Service Meteorologist in Oxnard, last night after most of the rain had stopped falling. He said the coast and valleys got roughly 1.25 to 3.5 inches of rain with the highest amount being 4.76 inches at Rocky Peak near Simi Valley. For the Los Angeles and Ventura mountains, particularly on the south slopes, about 4 to 5 inches fell, with peak rainfall of over 6 inches.

“It can be quite difficult to forecast precipitation amounts,” Sirard said. “The main funnel band with a storm went through just a little bit quicker than the models were predicting. So that's why we didn't get those eight inches of rain.”

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But that doesn’t mean the storm didn’t have an impact here.

STOCK-LA-River-Storm
Debris stuck on the roots of trees in the L.A. River after the storm on Thursday, January 5th, 2023.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
/
LAist)

The Ventura River in Ventura County flooded Thursday morning and there were strong, damaging winds that knocked down trees and created power outages, especially in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Here in L.A., there was flooding of the freeways and a rock slide on Pacific Coast Highway. Of course, it goes without saying that the most vulnerable in our county, the unhoused, experience some of the worst impacts of harsh weather. My colleague Mariana Dale talked to a Los Angeles Housing Services Authority spokesperson, who said the agency contacted seven unhoused people near the San Fernando Valley’s Hansen Dam and Sepulveda Basin, which also flooded yesterday. Five of those people, including a couple with five pets, received temporary housing.

My LAist colleague Samanta Helou Hernandez was out taking photos and tweeted this video of a rushing L.A. River after the downpour yesterday. As most of you know, the L.A. River is usually pretty tame when it’s not raining heavily.

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There’ve been some reports of big surf but you might want to rethink heading into the ocean right now. Sirard said water quality drops after storms like this and it becomes unsafe to surf and swim because of high bacteria counts in the water.

“We have surf like 15-20 feet on the beaches right now,” Sirard said, “and it could be hazardous to people so we tell people not to go in the water. You know, it's too dangerous.”

A concrete riverbed is filled with surging water after a rain storm.
The L.A. River flowing below the 4th Street Bridge after the storm on Jan. 5, 2023.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
/
LAist)

What The Weather Will Bring

So what’s next for us heading into the weekend and next week? More rain!

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Meteorologists at NWS expect more rain to fall between Saturday night and Sunday. And there might just be another large Pacific storm on Monday going into Tuesday like what we just went through.

Sirard’s Advice:

  • Stay off the beaches — they are hazardous at this time. There could be minor coastal flooding for west facing beaches. 
  • Be aware and make plans because we could get some more significant rain with a couple more storms starting as early as Sunday. 
  • Make sure you’re prepared for any potential flooding and power outages.

Do you have more storm questions? Read my colleague Sam Benson’s Smith FAQfor answers on things you’ve been wondering about, like where the stormwater is going and how we are capturing it – and not – for later use.

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

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

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

  • Los Angeles is getting millions of dollars to put towards youth mental health. A dozen facilities will benefit from the Department of Health Care Services grants. My colleague Robert Garrova breaks down where the money is going.  
  • L.A. politicians elected in November are hustling to hire staff. Most pledged to bring in people from diverse backgrounds. A new resumé database has been created to encourage the hiring of more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a group that’s been underrepresented in local government. 
  • We don’t need to tell you that college is expensive. But some California campuses, like UCLA, aim to make it a little more affordable and accessible with free or reduced transportation.  
  • The House again adjourned for the night without electing a speaker. McCarthy was still shy of more than a dozen votes to secure the post. This struggle to elect a speaker has been felt before — 100 years ago. This is what happened then.
  • A new rule could allow incarcerated people in California to enroll into Medi-Cal up to 90 days before they leave prison. This comes as a part of a plan to simplify incarcerated people’s return to society, lower emergency room visits and shorten time in the hospital. 
  • Though the effects of climate seem present almost every day - just consider this latest extreme storm — there isn’t a sense of urgency to it, academics say, which can be a challenge in combating it. It has to do with humans' relationship with time and our obsession with the present
  • In the latest installment of LAist’s Being American essay series, one writer tells of his family’s complicated path to America from Israel and how his artist father, who waited a long time to come, finally found his success in California.
  • And if you thought it felt wet in your neighborhood yesterday, check out these old photos of past flooding in L.A. courtesy of the LA Explained Instagram account. 
  • *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! 

Wait... One More Thing

Attend the Oshogatsu Family Festival OR Celebrate at The Smell

The front door of the all-ages, alcohol free club The Smell in downtown L.A.
The all-ages, alcohol-free club The Smell in downtown L.A. celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend.
(Courtesy of UpdateNerd, marked with CC0 1.0.)

It’s that time of the week again. It’s Get-Outside-and-Go-Somewhere Day in the newsletter! Don’t let all of this chilly and wet weather rain down your party parade this weekend. There’s plenty of events you can attend this weekend that would keep you nice and warm.

NOT SO FREE 

Do you know anyone from the ages of 3 to 99 that loves snakes and other reptiles, amphibians or turtles? Take them to the Reptile Super Show where they can see all kinds of slimy or tough creatures at the Fairplex in Expo Hall #4. Make sure you leave your pets at home. Or if you want to have a chill, possibly childfree day, check out the R-rated BYOB (Baby, Boob, Buggy, Bottle): A Comedy Show for Parents at The Crow at Bergamot Station Arts Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. Babies are welcome cause, as the venue notes, they don’t understand a thing!

ALMOST FREE 

If you’re a huge punk rock and experimental music fan, attend The Smell’s 25th anniversary celebration throughout the weekend. It’s all-ages and it’s alcohol-free. Most shows are $5.

FOR FREE 

It’s the Year of the Rabbit in Japanese culture. Attend the annual Oshogatsu Family Festival on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum. There’ll be a Japanese rice pounding ritual, candy structure demonstrations and calligraphy demonstrations and so much more. The beautiful thing is all you need to do is RSVP.

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What questions do you have about the weather we're experiencing?
A massive winter storm is hitting Southern California. We're here to answer your questions.
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