Southern California residents are preparing for a winter storm slated to roll into the region on Thursday, bringing with it the threats of flooding, mudslides and road closures in several areas.
While the rain is forecast for the Los Angeles area Thursday evening, with the heaviest rainfall expected overnight through Friday, road closures were already in place early in the recent burn areas of Arcadia, Monrovia and Sierra Madre near the Angeles National Forest.
Weather officials urged residents to be ready to leave in the event of evacuations that could be triggered by heavy rainfall, mud and debris flows, and to avoid roads leading into the forest.
In Lake Hughes, which burned in last September’s Lake Fire, an evacuation order is planned for “specific locations” on Pine Canyon Road, Ellstree Drive, Kings Canyon Road and Lake Hughes Road, L.A. County sheriff’s officials said. Deputies planned to knock on affected residents’ doors and urge them to leave by 6 p.m. Thursday.
One to 3 inches of rain are on tap for the coastal and valley areas, and between 2 and 5 inches of rain are expected in the mountains, according to the forecast.
“That rain coming down the mountain can create a danger. Half an inch of rain an hour could potentially cause a disaster situation,” L.A. County Fire Inspector Henry Narvaez said. “If you are concerned or if you are up against one of these areas that has the potential, we ask that you just have a plan.”
A flash flood watch has been issued from 4 p.m. Thursday through 4 a.m. Friday for L.A. County’s recent foothill burn areas, including the Bobcat, Lake and Ranch2 fires, the National Weather Service reported.
Los Angeles County has also extended a Cold Weather Alert in the Antelope Valley and county mountain areas through Saturday. Residents are encouraged to stay inside to keep warm. Those who need shelter can visit lahsa.org, or call the L.A. County Information Line at 211 for help with winter shelter locations and transportation information.
Residents in other parts of Southern California, including Orange County are also being alerted to be aware of the incoming storm. On Thursday an emergency text alert was sent to residents notifying that a voluntary evacuation was issued by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department effective at 8 a.m. for the Bond Fire burn area.
“The O.C. Sheriff advices an evacuation warning (voluntary) for Silverado, Williams and Modjeska Canyons due to heavy rains and possible debris flow…,” the text alert stated. Anyone in need of sandbags in Orange County should visit ocfa.org for information on where to pick them up.
In Ventura County, a flood advisory was in effect until 10:30 p.m. Thursday as steady rainfall was expected to move into the area from the west, falling at a rate of up to 1 inch per hour.
In Riverside County, officials issued a warning on Twitter for some residents in the Santa Ana River Bottom area to move to high ground.
An evacuation warning that cautioned residents, “Don’t be caught in the storm,” was also issued in San Bernardino County for several communities impacted by the El Dorado Fire. Officials also reminded the community to be aware of downed trees and power lines and to have emergency kits available.
Travel was still being permitted on the 5 Freeway through the Grapevine area early Thursday, though the popular stretch of highway was closed most of Wednesday morning as wet and icy roads made conditions dangerous for motorists.
The California Highway Patrol on Thursday urged drivers who are making their way through the Grapevine to be prepared and take it slow.
“Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Slow down and make sure you maintain a buffer between you and the cars around you,” CHP Officer Rich Anthies told KTLA.
Those with plans to head up to the local mountains, including Big Bear and Mt. Baldy, were asked to make sure they check on possible road closures and detours, and to come prepared with chains and know how to use them.