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Storm Snarls Traffic; 4 Killed : Weather: Record rainfall contributes to accidents and leaves mudslide-wary residents on edge. Forecasters see a chance of showers today.

March 27, 1993|From Associated Press

A powerful spring storm drenched Southern California for a second straight day Friday, contributing to at least four traffic deaths and frazzling the nerves of scores of hillside residents before moving out of the region.

In downtown Los Angeles, a record 2.45 inches of rain fell between midnight and 3 p.m., breaking the previous record for the date of 1.53 inches, set in 1906.

The storm dumped up to a foot of snow in the mountains, overjoying ski resort managers who expected large crowds for the weekend.

Another, weaker storm was expected to hit the region late this afternoon, with about a 40% chance of scattered showers tonight and early Sunday, said Scott Entrekin, a National Weather Service meteorologist. He said skies should clear by Sunday afternoon, with generally clear weather during the first half of next week.

The body of a 25-year-old man was pulled Friday from the cab of a mangled truck that crashed through a freeway guardrail and plunged 70 feet into the rain-swollen Los Angeles River, according to the California Highway Patrol. The victim's name was withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The CHP said the truck toppled into the river Thursday night after colliding with a car on the Golden State Freeway north of downtown Los Angeles. The vehicle was swept about 1 1/2 miles downstream. River currents prevented firefighters from recovering the vehicle and the man's body until 8 a.m.

In another accident, Adam Ambrose, 6, was fatally injured late Thursday when the car he was riding in spun out of control on wet pavement, overturned and was struck by two other vehicles on the Golden State Freeway, the CHP said.

Officers said the boy's mother, Christine Ambrose, 28, of Carmichael, was headed south on the freeway just north of Western Avenue when her car apparently hit a puddle, spun and overturned. A car going south on the freeway struck the passenger side of Ambrose's auto, forcing it into the next lane, where another car struck the Ambrose vehicle.

The boy was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. Seven other people, including Christine Ambrose and her two other sons, suffered minor injuries.

Dozens of other accidents occurred on rain-slick pavement throughout Southern California, the CHP said.

A 10-car pileup blocked all westbound lanes of the Ventura Freeway in Glendale for several hours Friday, but there were no serious injuries, the CHP said. Two people were killed when their car crashed during a rain squall Thursday evening on Highway 126 near Fillmore in Ventura County.

A man and dog stranded on a sandbar in Malibu Creek were plucked to safety by a rescue helicopter late Thursday, said county fire Inspector Joel Harrison. Both the man and dog were unhurt.

Two waterspouts were reported Friday over the Pacific Ocean, one about 10 miles west of the Los Angeles International Airport and the other off the coast of Oceanside in San Diego County. Neither came ashore, the weather service said.

Hillside homeowners in Studio City and Agoura Hills kept a watchful eye Friday as more rain pelted the saturated earth behind their houses, threatening to set off more mudslides.

A small landslide in Agoura Hills this week caused about 10 feet of earth movement behind one home, but authorities said no buildings were in imminent danger. Nonetheless, Los Angeles County firefighters shored up the area with sandbags and remained on the scene.

Officials warned that several homes in Studio City might suffer more damage because of a sliding hill. Some residents were evacuated Tuesday because a 300-foot-wide chunk of hillside began to give way behind six homes.

The latest storm dropped the first significant rainfall on Southern California since late February. Almost 18 inches of rain fell on Los Angeles in January and February, but less than a tenth of an inch had fallen in March before the latest storm arrived Thursday.

Friday's rainfall brought the season's total in downtown Los Angeles to 28.09 inches. Last season's total at this time was 20.09 inches. The normal total for the date is 13.2 inches.

The bulk of the storm moved east into southern Nevada and Arizona on Friday afternoon, leaving scattered rain, clouds and strong desert winds in its wake.

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