Second in series of storms expected to hit Calif.


Workers gather around a large tree on the roof a home in Corona del Mar, Calif. on Monday afternoon Jan. 18, 2010. Forecasters said storms lasting through at least Friday could drop 20 inches of rain inland and 8 inches along the coast and in the valleys of Southern California.

Orange County Register, Leonard Ortiz/The Associat
Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:25 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:25 a.m.

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. — Authorities and residents of Southern California are bracing for another day of rain as the second of three back-to-back storms expected to hit the state this week approaches the coast.

Forecasters posted a flash flood watch early Tuesday for areas scarred by last summer's wildfires in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. High surf advisories, issued Monday, also were in effect into Tuesday, with wave heights of 15 to 18 feet reported along the Central Coast from Point Conception north to Cape San Martin.

"Thus far, LA appears to be doing well, but the passing of this storm simply closes one chapter in a never-ending story," Brian Humphrey, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said Monday.

A rainstorm that pounded much of the state Monday moved on without causing major damage, but not before prompting evacuations, cutting power to thousands and forcing even Disneyland to close several hours early.

Like Monday's storm, Tuesday's is expected to bring rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches along the coast and valleys and up to 6 inches in the mountains. The next system will be colder and could drop snow coverage from mountain peaks to elevations 5,000 feet off the ground, said Bill Hoffer, spokesman for the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Forecasters said storms lasting through Friday could drop a total of 20 inches of rain on Southern California.

The weather could clear up by Sunday, but another Pacific storm could be in the offing for early next week, Hoffer said.

On Monday, authorities ordered nearly 200 homes evacuated or put on alert in foothill communities just below areas devastated by the massive Station wildfire, which charred more than 250 square miles of the Angeles National Forest in August. By Monday night, authorities had invited all residents to return in after the storm had passed.

More than 100 homes were evacuated or placed on alert in La Canada Flintridge through most of Monday afternoon. Authorities also evacuated 83 homes about seven miles away in Los Angeles' San Fernando Mountain foothills for several hours.

Another 300 homes were isolated in a remote canyon neighborhood in Altadena for part of the day after debris being carried downstream stacked up against a small bridge and caused flooding on an access road. Los Angeles County fire Inspector Steve Zermeno said crews had the debris clear by nightfall.

About 63,000 customers in Southern California were without power for part of the day as flooding and high winds toppled power lines or sent drivers careening into electric poles.

By late Monday, power utility officials said electricity had been restored to more than half of those customers, as crews fanned out across the region to complete repairs.

The storm broke a 1993 rainfall record at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, where 1.55 inches of rain were recorded.

In Northern California, a plane arriving from Dallas made an emergency landing at San Jose International Airport because of the storm, and a 21-year-old Kern County man was killed when a tree toppled on his house.

In Orange County, the downpour forced Disneyland to close its gates three hours early and caused a roof to collapse on employees at a medical lab in Santa Ana. No one was injured.

In San Bernardino County, authorities in Victorville rescued four teenagers who became trapped by a 6-foot wall of rising water in a storm drain. One of the teens called police to say the group was hanging from a ladder leading to a manhole cover, but didn't know their exact location, police spokeswomen Karen Hunt said in a statement.

The teens — ages 19, 17, 16 and 15 — were rescued after a San Bernardino County sheriff who was looking for them heard their cries for help. Hunt did not know why the teens were in the drain, but said it was commonly used as a shortcut to a park.

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