Jason Plummer became stranded on an island in the creek when he and a friend, Art McLeran, 18, of Palmdale, tried to cross the waters during an early morning hike, Fire Capt. Ron Conway said. The creek, at the foot of Little Rock Reservoir, was six-feet deep and moving at 20 m.p.h., he said.
"He made it partway across, but then he decided it was too dangerous to continue, which it was," Conway said. "The other guy made it, but he could have been swept away too."
Throughout the region, safety personnel were alerted to the hazards of normally quiescent channels that abruptly became transformed into storm-powered, raging torrents.
"The water moves very rapidly and it can be very dangerous," said Don Tayenaka, who heads the swift-water rescue teams for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
In Montebello, residents of an apartment house inundated Friday used the lull before the latest storm to sift through water-soaked belongings.
Fire officials said the heavy rains caused a concrete culvert to collapse on a hillside above the building Friday, sending a wall of water and mud crashing onto the building.
The building's 134 residents were allowed back into their homes briefly Saturday to salvage what they could.
In San Diego, authorities warned migrants living in canyons below Hodges and Loveland dams to leave the area just as the dams began overflowing. The Barrett, Lower Otay and San Vicente dams, also in San Diego County, were expected to begin spilling over by early Monday, authorities said. However, the overflows posed no threat to residents near the dams.
In Ventura County, a mudslide Friday night prompted Caltrans to close an 11-mile stretch of California 150 between Ojai and the Santa Barbara County line. The mountainous highway, which winds around the northern side of the Lake Casitas Reservoir, will be closed for a week, a Caltrans spokeswoman said Saturday.
Although Santa Monica Bay beaches remained open Saturday, health officials recommended that people continue to stay out of the water between Torrance and Pacific Palisades after water samples revealed high bacteria levels.
"Anytime it rains, it's not safe for anyone to go into the water . . . because the street runoff ends up in the ocean," said Lt. Mickey Gallagher of the Los Angeles County Lifeguards.
On Skid Row downtown, homeless shelters have been filled for weeks. Those spending the night outside searched for abandoned cars, empty buildings or bits of plastic to cover their cardboard shelters.
"You see plastic, you grab it," said Michael Ross. "We're all sick of rain."
As of Saturday afternoon, Los Angeles had received a little more than 15 inches of rain since the beginning of the season in July. The average for the whole year is 14.85 inches. Though rainfall varied greatly across Southern California on Saturday, one or two inches were expected to fall on waterlogged soil by this morning in many areas, according to meteorologists.
Though Los Angeles residents suffering East Coast-style wet basement syndrome may be skeptical, the Los Angeles Basin may turn out to have been spared the worst of either storm.
However, snow levels were expected to lower to about 5,000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains by Monday.
Clearing was expected by late Monday with no more rain in sight. In short, starting Tuesday morning, Southern California will look more like Southern California.
"Once the low-pressure system goes by, the pattern will have shifted to a high pressure," said Burback. After that, he said, "there's virtually no chance (of rain)--I promise."
Also contributing to this story were Times staff writers Laurie Becklund, Steve Padilla, Hugo Martin and Patrick J. McDonnell in Los Angeles; Rene Lynch in Orange County and Gary Gorman in Ventura County.