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Cold storm drubs Southern California

Rain floods streets and worries hillside residents fearful of mudslides. Evacuations are ordered in Sierra Madre, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta and Acton.

February 10, 2010|By Robert J. Lopez
  • A rainbow brightens an otherwise gloomy scene in downtown Los Angeles.
A rainbow brightens an otherwise gloomy scene in downtown Los Angeles. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

A cold storm belted Southern California with rain and snow Tuesday, flooding streets and leaving residents in foothill neighborhoods wondering whether saturated hillsides would withstand the latest onslaught of wet weather.

In Sierra Madre, officials ordered mandatory evacuations Tuesday afternoon for about 300 homes in the city's canyon areas, but allowed residents to return in the evening. The alert followed a similar order issued for more than 500 homes Monday night in burn areas in La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta and Acton.

In East Los Angeles, lightning flashes were visible Tuesday afternoon as a heavy downpour turned sidewalks along Whittier Boulevard into rivers. Vehicles, meanwhile, sloshed across area freeways as the brunt of the storm rolled over the area.

By Tuesday evening, 0.40 inches of rain had been recorded in Santa Monica and 0.56 inches had fallen in Burbank, the weather service said. At the San Gabriel Dam, 1.30 inches of rain had been recorded.

At Mt. Baldy, 3 to 4 inches of snow had fallen, and 8 inches had been reported in Wrightwood, the weather service said.

The wet weather will linger through Wednesday morning, but the region should dry up by Thursday and experience warmer weather through the weekend, according to the weather service.

As rain fell Tuesday afternoon, crews were cleaning small amounts of mud and debris from roadways in hillside areas and replacing 4,000-pound concrete barriers that were knocked aside over the weekend by powerful mud flows that roared down canyons stripped of protective vegetation by the huge Station fire that broke out in August.

Officials said no major damage had been reported, but they added that crews were monitoring rain-swollen debris basins.

"They are holding their own, but they are fast reaching capacity," said Bob Spencer, a spokesman with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

In Paradise Valley, the La Cañada Flintridge neighborhood hard hit by mud flows early Saturday, some residents refused to evacuate, instead waiting out the wet weather at home.

"As long as we don't get heavy rain, we'll be OK," said Dale Reavis, who lives on Ocean View Boulevard.

Reavis, whose home is at about 2,200 feet elevation, said snow was falling Tuesday evening on the mountainside about 800 feet above his property. "It makes us really comfortable," he said.

About a mile up the canyon, Murdock Allen said he wasn't worried about mudslides.

He said he lost two vehicles when mud and boulders smashed through a cinder-block wall Saturday and ravaged his driveway area.

But Tuesday evening was a different story.

"I'm not really concerned," Allen said. "Somebody has to stay and watch the neighborhood."

robert.lopez@latimes.com

Times staff writer Tony Barboza contributed to this report.

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