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Southland Storm Leaves Wake of Damage, Broken Records

A dozen Los Angeles Fire Department emergency responders stand on a bridge filled with traffic over the LA River, which is sloshing with storm water.
LAFD Swift Water Rescue crew members examine the LA River on December 14.
(Erik Scott
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A storm system tore through the Southland on Tuesday, breaking daily records and leaving behind a wake of damage in communities across the region.

The cats and dogs rainfall was historic, according to the National Weather Service.

Rain Totals

  • Downtown Los Angeles: 2.16 inches of rain recorded, breaking a previous record of 0.96 inches set in 1888
  • LAX: 1.29 inches of rain recorded, breaking a previous record of 0.38 inches set in 1993
  • Hollywood Burbank Airport: 1.81 inches of rain recorded, breaking a previous record of 0.29 inches set in 1965
  • Long Beach Airport: 0.88 inches of rain recorded, breaking a previous record of 0.24 inches set in 1993
  • Santa Barbara Airport: 1.44 inches of rain recorded, breaking a previous record of 0.61 set in 2002
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The San Fernando Valley was also doused; 4.5 inches of rain was reported in Woodland Hills, and Calabasas had 3 inches of rain reported before noon. Some LA County mountain areas reported 5 to 6 inches of rain while other, higher elevation areas reported dustings of snow by the evening.

Emergency Response

The deluge forced mandatory evacuations orders in the Bond Fire burn scar area in Orange County. A flash flood warning was issued for Modjeska, Williams, and Silverado canyons thanks to a rate of rainfall between half an inch and three-quarters of an inch an hour. The warning expired by 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Mudslides ripped through Silverado Canyon and forced Orange County Fire Authority emergency personnel to rescue some residents cut off by the flow of debris.

The Los Angeles Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue team was also busy, starting off the day with a save in Sylmar at 8 a.m. when a man was pulled from the side of the L.A. River.

“We don't know what they were doing or how they got into the current,” said Nicholas Prange, an LAFD spokesperson. “That person did get rescued and had mild injuries and mild hypothermia.”

At least three vehicles ended up in the waterway by midday.

In the San Gabriel Valley, Monrovia issued a local emergency proclamation after a significant mudflow caused damage to Monrovia Canyon Park.

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Further up past the foothills, roads were shut down in local mountains due to the weather impacts.

By Tuesday night, all motorists not operating four-wheel-drive vehicles were required to apply chains to their tires if they were planning on taking SR-243 toward Idyllwild. On the other side of the San Gorgonio Pass, SR-38 was closed between Bryant and Big Bear overnight due to four feet of mud and debris on the roadway.

The closure was lifted by Wednesday morning, but motorists were still advised to pack warm clothing as the conditions were still considered unsafe.

More Rain In The Forecast

Those hoping for a respite from the wet weather will be sorely disappointed, however. Rich Thompson of the National Weather Service told our newsroom that another storm is likely to hit Southern California between Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

"Potentially, it could be some spots receiving anywhere from half an inch to an inch. But again, those are very preliminary estimates and likely to change between now and then,” Thompson said.

Additionally, Thompson said rain may be possible for Christmas Eve and Day.

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