At least 3 dead as heavy rains trigger flooding, mudflows and freeway closures across Southern California

James Queally and Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

Flooding in that area has caused road closures at Burbank Boulevard near the 405 Freeway and at the intersection of Hayvenhurst Avenue, the LAPD said. An LAPD cruiser became mired in a debris flow on La Tuna Canyon Road, according to authorities. The officer was uninjured and walked out of their vehicle. The cruiser was in the process of being dug out of the mud with a backhoe early Tuesday.

Also in Los Angeles County, a mudslide caused officials to close Topanga Canyon Boulevard, just north of Pacific Coast Highway early Tuesday, and Burbank Police were reporting "mudslide activity" that had dumped heavy debris onto Country Club Drive. The 110 North near Redondo Beach Boulevard also has been closed because of flooding, the CHP said.

The CHP also said heavy rains likely contributed to a crash that left one person dead on Route 126 in an unincorporated section of Ventura County on Monday afternoon. One woman died and two others were injured in the five-car crash, the agency said.

The National Weather Service was reporting rainfall totals of up to 4 1/2 inches in Ventura County and 3 inches in Santa Barbara County as of 6 a.m. Nearly 1 1/2 inches of rain had fallen in Bel Air, which could be susceptible to mudslides and debris flow because of damage caused by the Skirball fire last month.

Vast swaths of Southern California became subject to evacuation orders Monday as the powerful rainstorm was forecast to release a deluge on areas ravaged by wildfires last month. The heaviest rainfall was expected to hit Tuesday morning.

In Los Angeles County, sheriff's deputies went door to door Monday alerting residents about the orders in Kagel Canyon, Lopez Canyon and Little Tujunga Canyon. Those who refused to leave said they had to sign a form saying they understood the risk.

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Residents in burn zones in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, along with an area of Duarte, also were ordered to leave, while those in the Corona and Burbank burn areas were put on notice that they may have to evacuate if conditions worsened.

When a fire sweeps through an area, it not only burns the vegetation but damages the soil itself. The intense heat makes the soil unable to absorb water the way it normally would.

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