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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Mudslides, rescues and power outages follow record rainfall in California

Workers clear a fallen tree from a road in Goleta, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Parts of Southwest California were bracing for heavy rains that could lead to life-threatening floods and “one of the most dramatic weather days in recent memory,” forecasters said. (Philip Cheung/The New York Times)

By Shawn Hubler

A record-breaking storm stalled over the Los Angeles area Monday as California surveyed damage from a ferocious atmospheric river. Half a million homes and businesses remained without power as residents encountered blocked roads, rising floodwater and a relentless downpour that was expected to last for another day.

Nearly 10 inches of rain had been recorded by sunup in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air — more than half its average annual rainfall. The Hollywood Hills had been inundated, with morning traffic crawling past fallen trees and mud on narrow roadways. Rain totals in downtown Los Angeles had passed 6 inches after smashing a century-old daily rainfall record for Feb. 4, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters cautioned that the most dangerous part of the storm might still lie ahead, with less intense but nonstop showers expected to continue until Tuesday. Eight to 14 inches of rain could fall Monday in parts of Southern California, potentially matching Los Angeles’ average annual rainfall total — 14 inches — in a single day.

Officials warned of the potential for more flooding and mudslides.

“We’ve got more rain coming, heavy rain, through the overnight hours,” said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, north of Los Angeles. “Plus the existing rain that we’ve had, plus the rain we had earlier this week.”

Here’s what else to know:

— A flash flood warning remains in place until 9 a.m. Pacific time for parts of Los Angeles County including Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Hills, Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains. And an “extremely dangerous situation” was unfolding in the Hollywood Hills, the National Weather Service said, warning of “life-threatening landslides.”

— Parts of the Santa Monica Mountains received more than 7 inches of rain over two days, spawning mudslides that covered canyon roads in and out of Malibu, authorities said. And in Los Angeles’ Studio City neighborhood, firefighters evacuated at least six people from their homes.

— Despite the bad weather, many school districts in Southern California, including Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest, were planning to keep their classrooms open.

— Urgent warnings from Los Angeles officials telling people to stay off the roads didn’t put a damper on the Grammy Awards on Sunday night — although Miley Cyrus, the night’s first award winner, said she nearly missed the start of the ceremony.

— In Northern California, an 82-year-old man was killed by a falling redwood in his Yuba City backyard as the storm swept through Sunday, drenching the region and toppling trees that blocked streets in San Francisco.

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