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 — Southern California is on watch for potential mudslides, debris flows and flooding this week as yet another storm hit a region already waterlogged by weeks of heavy rain.

As of Tuesday afternoon, downtown Los Angeles has received about 17.5 inches of rain since the water year began on Oct. 1 and around 12 inches just during February. That’s almost 3 inches more than the area’s average for a full year, and 8 inches more than it typically gets by this point in the water year.

“This is one of the wetter Februarys on record,” said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It’s been an incredibly wet month.”

Despite the record rainfall, Southern California has not seen major mudslides so far. But officials warn that could change as the wet conditions continue.

“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,” Kittell said. 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 rockslides.

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.

The weather service has received reports of mud and debris flows and flooding in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Palisades area. Most of the reports have been in Santa Barbara County, where the rainfall totals have been higher.

“Usually when we start to get rainfall totals for the season above 10 inches, the areas that are really vulnerable to mudslides and landslides become especially vulnerable to those type of issues,” Kittell said.

Residents of Rancho Palos Verdes, where a slow-moving landslide complex has been shifting for decades, are bracing for the aftermath of this week’s storm. Although the weather service has reported that only about 2 inches of rain has fallen in the area during this storm, record-setting rainfall over the past several months has saturated the ground, causing the landslide area to shift more rapidly, according to City Manager Ara Mihranian.


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