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Potentially disastrous L.A. weather taking a sunny turn

The rainstorm that could have triggered mudslides was gentler than had been feared, and now temperatures are expected to head back to the 80s and 90s.

October 15, 2009|Baxter Holmes and Robert J. Lopez

Southern California is expected to see a sharp change in the weather now that a Pacific storm has blown out of the region, apparently sparing fire-charred mountain areas from disastrous mudslides Wednesday.

The storm, which dumped 2 to 3 inches of rain in the Angeles National Forest, contributed to a number of traffic accidents but caused no significant mudflows in areas ravaged by recent wildfires.

Still, officials said, even though the rain has passed, the danger of mudslides will continue as new storm systems develop in the coming weeks and months.

"This is going to be an ongoing issue for all the people living in the burn area," said Capt. Mark Savage, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "Until there is significant [plant] growth, which might take over a year or two or three years, this could be an issue."

Residents and officials across the region had prepared for the worst, fortifying homes and mountainsides with sandbags and heavy concrete barriers called K-rails. In unincorporated areas of L.A. County, 6,000 feet of K-rails had been placed in areas prone to mudslides, including those burned by the Station fire that broke out in August.

La Crescenta resident Paul Dutton, who spent Tuesday stacking sandbags at a friend's home in the rain, said he was glad that the worst seemed to have passed. But like others, he couldn't help but think about the next time a storm strikes.

"I'm a little bit concerned . . . about the whole community, not just my home," he said.

As of Wednesday evening, downtown Los Angeles had received 2.03 inches of rain. A little more than 3 inches had fallen in the San Gabriel Dam area above Azusa. And in Lancaster, only two-tenths of an inch had been recorded.

In the Los Angeles area, high temperatures in valleys today could reach the low 80s, the National Weather Service said.

The warmup will continue into Friday. Valley areas, and possibly downtown, could experience highs in the low 90s, according to the weather service.

"It's about as abrupt a change as we could expect," said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the weather service's Oxnard office.

The change in weather, he said, will result from a ridge of high pressure building over Idaho.

"It will be pushing drier air across the [Southern California] area," Kittell said.


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