Evacuations Ordered as Storm Moves In

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Southland is bracing for the worst of a two- day storm that will bring heavy rain and possible flooding to the area during this morning's rush-hour commute, and could cause dangerous mudslides in areas hit by the recent wildfires.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department imposed mandatory evacuations in the Kagel Canyon, Lopez Canyon and Little Tujunga Canyon areas on Monday, all near the area of the recent Creek Fire.

An evacuation center was established at Sun Valley Recreation Center, 8133 Vineland Ave. An evacuation center for large animals was opened at Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave. in Woodland Hills.

Duarte city officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for about 180 homes near the Fish Fire burn area, beginning at 7 p.m., and a series of streets in that area were closed. Classes were canceled for Tuesday at Valley View Elementary School.

An evacuation center for Duarte residents was established at the Duarte Community Center, 1600 Huntington Drive.

Burbank city officials said voluntary evacuations were being advised on a series of streets near the La Tuna Fire burn area, and an evacuation center was established at McCambridge Recreation Center, 1515 Glenoaks Blvd.

Sandbags were being offered to residents at fire stations across the region to help them protect their homes from flooding.

The worst of the rain was expected to fall over Los Angeles County between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. today, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm will be a potent snowmaker as well, according to the NWS, which issued winter storm warnings in the mountains above 4,000 feet. Snow was expected to fall above 8,000 feet Monday, then drop to 6,000 feet by Tuesday afternoon as a vigorous cold front arrives from the Gulf of Alaska and collides with the wet warm front already in Southern California.

A flash flood watch will remain in effect through Tuesday night in most of the Southland.

``While the recent burn areas are most threatened and should be emphasized, flash flooding is possible nearly anywhere in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties,'' according to the NWS.

``A cold front will interact with a plume of subtropical moisture and will bring a period of widespread moderate to heavy rainfall to the region...'' according to the NWS. ``Behind the front, scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms will continue through Tuesday evening. Rainfall rates between one half and one inch per hour are possible during the peak of the storm. Such rain rates are capable of producing flash flooding. Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where dangerous mud and debris flows are possible.''

Strong winds will complicate the commute even more. A wind advisory is in effect until noon across the Southland, with the strongest gusts of up to 50 miles per hour forecast for the mountains and the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

The storms come after a 10-month dry spell in the Southland following torrential rains in January and February of last year. In 2017, downtown Los Angeles experienced its driest March 1 through Dec. 31 since 1878, with only 0.69 of an inch of rainfall, according to the NWS.

NWS Meteorologist Joe Sirad told City News Service the flatlands of Los Angeles County will get the most rain since last Feb. 17, when downtown got 2.01 inches.

``Our confidence is quite high,'' Sirad said of computer models.

The expected moisture region-wide will be welcome news for a majority of residents, but not those who live in the Creek, La Tuna, Rye and Skirball burn areas, where there is a ``strong potential for mud and debris flows,'' Sirad said. ``People in burn areas need to take protective measures and listen for evacuation messages.''

It also could result in urban street and underpass flooding, making for a ``rainy, windy commute'' on Tuesday, he said.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced that winter shelters would stay open until 7 a.m. Wednesday because of the storm.

An offshore flow is forecast to return late Wednesday with warmer temperatures, dry air, low humidity and gusty winds through Sunday.

Saturday could bring sunny skies and highs above 80.

The NWS forecast rainy weather in L.A. County today and highs of 50 on Mount Wilson; 52 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 54 in Saugus; 56 in Burbank and Woodland Hills; 57 in Pasadena; 59 in Downtown L-A, Avalon, San Gabriel and at LAX; and 50 in Long Beach. Wednesday's L.A. County temperatures will be up to 9 degrees higher in some communities amid partly cloudy skies, with the sun forecast to make a return on Thursday.

Rainy weather is also expected in Orange County, along with highs of 60 in Mission Viejo; 61 in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Fullerton, Irvine and Anaheim; and 62 in Yorba Linda.

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