Another storm pounds Los Angeles County, triggering flood watch and fears of mudslides

Summer Lin and Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

LOS ANGELES — With a storm lingering again over Los Angeles County, experts warn that even its modest rainfall could elevate the risk for mudslides, debris flows and flooding because the ground is already waterlogged from the monster storms earlier this month.

“In normal winters where we haven’t had as much rain, this type of rainfall doesn’t cause that much (of an) issue because the ground can still absorb water,” said National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Kittell. But once the ground becomes completely saturated, he said, flooding can occur “really easily” and the earth can start to move, either with mud or rock slides.

Most populated areas of L.A. County have received 1 to 3 inches of rain since Monday morning, while foothill and mountain regions have gotten between 3 and 6 inches, according to the weather service. As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, 1.25 inches had fallen in downtown Los Angeles, 3.31 inches in Bel-Air and 6.07 inches in Topanga Canyon.

Downtown L.A. has received 16.87 inches of rain since the water year began on Oct. 1, and 11.64 inches just during February. That’s almost 2 inches more the area’s average for a full year, and 7 inches more than it typically gets by this point in the water year.

“This is one of the wetter Februarys on record,” Kittell said. “It’s been an incredibly wet month.”

A flood watch is in effect for all of L.A. County except the Antelope Valley through 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to the weather service. Rivers, streams and low-lying areas could see flooding. Freeways and areas with poor drainage could also become inundated with water. There’s an increased risk for mudslides in vulnerable areas.


There was a brief lull in the rain Tuesday morning, but the showers are expected to pick back up and then intensify Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to Kittell.

On top of the current totals, the L.A. area could get an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain, with up to 4 inches or more in the foothills and mountains. There’s also a “very small but nonzero chance” of severe weather, including strong local winds, small accumulation of hail or even a brief tornado, according to Kittell.

The storm is forecast to taper off Wednesday night. It’s expected to be dry at least until the weekend, when there’s a chance for another storm Saturday night, becoming more likely Sunday and Monday.

Next week’s storm could bring an additional half an inch of rain to the area.


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