Residents of a Claremont neighborhood became prisoners in their homes Thursday night when a flash flood poured from the San Gabriel Mountains and turned a riverbed into an 8-foot-deep rushing stream dragging cars and logs.
All roads out of the community of 54 homes in Palmer Canyon were blocked by the moat of water.
The flood of rain and mud roared into the foothill community about 6:44 p.m., said county fire dispatcher Anita Padgett.
"They're trapped," Padgett said. However, by 8:15 p.m., she said, the waters appeared to be receding and county surveyors were reporting that the roads out of the neighborhood were getting closer to being passable.
"It sounded like a freight train rushing by," said Chuck Barklow, 45, whose daughter's Jeep Cherokee was washed 300 yards down into a gully by the waters. "The water was running hard all day, and then we heard it starting to go.... You could hear the rocks and the logs. The rocks were clanking together."
By 9:30 p.m., Barklow said, most of the water had receded but had left 4 feet of mud and muck in its wake. "Now we have to dig ourselves out again," he said. "You can't even see the streets."
Flood waters also swept mud and debris across San Dimas Canyon Boulevard near Golden Hills Road in La Verne, Padgett said.
The flooding came just as the Southland's largest storm of the season was tapering off.
Earlier, commuters trying to avoid another day of packed freeways were frustrated when they were waved away from the city's Metrolink station because of a lack of parking spaces. "No one likes to drive in weather like this," said Metrolink spokeswoman Sharon Gavin.
Drivers in Los Angeles County accounted for seven SigAlerts during the Thursday morning rush hour when it was only sprinkling in most places. Some scattered thunderstorms remained in the area late Thursday.
Rainfall totals for the storm were 3.58 inches in downtown Los Angeles, 6.3 inches at the Sepulveda Dam in the Valley, 4.59 inches in Oxnard and 2.8 inches in Anaheim, according to the National Weather Service.
The forecast for today is mostly cloudy skies with a slight chance of showers and high temperatures in the 60s, according to the weather service. There is a chance of showers beginning Saturday night and continuing into Sunday morning, it said.
"We knew this was going to be a big storm, but sometimes it adds up quickly, and that's what happened," said Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's Oxnard office. "We got it and then some."
The storm caused some flooding of streets and yards in the Quartz Hill area of Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, where a nearby flood-retention basin overflowed.
The waters had mostly receded by afternoon, according to local authorities.
Times staff writers Michael Krikorian and Mai Tran contributed to this report.