Southern California’s weather turned from dangerously dry to extremely wet Friday as a storms brought the threat of mudslides and flash floods in areas burned by recent wildfires and prompted evacuation orders.
Residents were ordered to leave 200 homes in Orange County’s Modjeska and Williams canyons, while voluntary evacuations were urged in a third canyon and authorities were keeping an eye on a fourth, said fire Capt. Chris Concepcion.
The National Weather Service said that some flash-flooding and debris flows were reported in the Modjeska Canyon area at midafternoon. Sheriff’s deputies went door-to-door to alert residents to the risk and an emergency shelter was set up at an area high school.
Flash flood warnings and watches were issued throughout Southern California, where wildfires have stripped vegetation from thousands of acres of land, leaving it susceptible to excessive runoff and erosion.
In north-central San Diego County, more than 2 inches of rain fell in the vicinity of vast areas burned by the wildfires of late October, the weather service said.
Firefighters and residents also kept an eye on Malibu, where the most recent blaze fanned by powerful, dry Santa Ana winds scorched 4,900 acres on slopes and in canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Downtown Los Angeles had .31 inch of rain by afternoon — not much by normal standards but relatively significant the course of the West’s long dry spell. Just 3.21 inches were recorded there in the rain-year that ended June 30. Average annual rainfall is 15.14 inches
The rain also turned commuting into a mess.
A tractor-trailer rig lost control before dawn on rain-slicked Interstate 5 in Orange County and all lanes were blocked for hours as firefighters worked to rescue the driver of a pickup truck that became wedged under the trailer. Traffic backed up for miles on the major route.