3 dead as storm pummels California, causing flooding and dozens of mudslides in L.A. area

Heavy rain at lower elevations caused flooding, while higher elevations were bracing for possible whiteout conditions that would make travel dangerous to near-impossible.


What to know as a severe storm system moves into California

  • The severe storm system began moving through California on Sunday, marking the start of what's expected to be days of heavy rain and snow.
  • About 38 million people are covered by flood alerts because of a weather system that the National Weather Service said could be "potentially historic."
  • At least three people have died in fallen tree incidents associated with the severe weather.
  • About 250,000 homes and businesses are without power in California, mostly in the northern and central parts of the state.
  • Heavy rain led to mandatory evacuations for parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties Sunday, and firefighters rescued 16 people from a single street in Los Angeles as mudslides caused havoc. The orders were canceled for Santa Barbara County and downgraded for Ventura County this afternoon.
  • NBC News' Liz Kreutz, Dana Griffin, Elwyn Lopez and Sam Brock are reporting from California.

11w ago / 12:37 AM EST

Flood watch remains for Los Angeles area until Tuesday afternoon

While officials have said the heaviest part of the storm is over, the Los Angeles area remained under a risk of significant flooding through 4 p.m. tomorrow, according to forecasters.

More than 7 inches of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles, and some areas got 11 inches. The Los Angeles region was under a flood watch.

The slow-moving storm will stay over the region through tomorrow or even Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Freeways could still flood, creating dangerous conditions and mudslides, and other debris flows remain a threat in hillside communities and around burn areas, the agency said.

“While the risk for flash flooding has decreased slightly since the Sunday night peak and most of the additional rain will be light to moderate in intensity, the threat for additional enhancement with heavy downpours and rain rates of 0.5 to 1.0 inches per hour remains,” the weather service said in a statement.

11w ago / 12:19 AM EST

Rain still to fall in San Diego area tomorrow

The rain that has hit Southern California and San Diego will not be over when drivers go to work tomorrow, forecasters said.

“Tomorrow on Tuesday, especially during the commute, it’s still going to be raining. And then the storm is not over with Tuesday afternoon,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Alex Tardy said in a video update this afternoon.

Thunderstorms could be possible, and off-and-on rain will fall in the area through Thursday, Tardy said.

San Onofre Beach in northern San Diego County, closer to Los Angeles, got around 4 inches of rain over two days, the weather service said. Oceanside got a little more than 2 inches. Rainfall totals in San Diego through tomorrow night could be 2 inches, according to the weather service.

11w ago / 11:43 PM EST

More than 250,000 customers without power in California

While the rain has eased in some parts of California, more than 250,000 customers in the state remained without electricity tonight, according to tracking website poweroutage.us.

Many of those were in Northern California and near the San Francisco Bay Area as of 8 p.m. Earlier today, around 350,000 customers had been reported without power. Customers are the number of homes and businesses, and not the same as the number of people affected.

Pacific Gas & Electric called the storm, in the terms of number of outages, among the most damaging single-day weather events on record. High winds knocked down trees or threw other objects into power lines, the company said. It said it had around 3,000 people working on restoration efforts.

11w ago / 11:14 PM EST

Firefighters rescue woman in San Bernardino

Anthony Correia

Firefighters rescued a woman from a homeless encampment that became surrounded by floodwater in the Santa Ana River during a rainstorm in San Bernardino today.

Ethan Swope / AP
11w ago / 10:40 PM EST

Parts of Los Angeles got more than 11 inches of rain

A little more than 11 inches of rain had fallen in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles as of this afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

Sepulveda Canyon also had gotten more than 11 inches of rain as of 4:30 p.m. local time, as had part of Topanga, the NWS said.

Downtown Los Angeles got more than 7 inches of rain, the weather service said in a statement, and Beverly Hills got almost 8 inches.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, winds lashed the region over the weekend. The top wind report there was at Pablo Point, at 102 mph. Point Reyes, north of San Francisco, recorded 89 mph, the weather service for the region said.

11w ago / 10:09 PM EST

Santa Barbara Airport reopens after flooding

Santa Barbara Airport reopened earlier today, after “significant flooding" occurred at the airfield. The airport resumed normal operations at 1 p.m. local time, it said.

A flood advisory remained in effect until 12:45 a.m. overnight, the National Weather Service said. Moderate and locally heavy rain could return there this evening, the agency said.

A flood watch was in place until 4 p.m. tomorrow.

11w ago / 9:57 PM EST

Risk of additional landslides in Los Angeles remains ‘very high’

Even if the rain appears to slacken following 6 to 11 inches that have fallen in the Los Angeles area, it will take very little to cause additional mudslides and other debris flows, a National Weather Service meteorologist warned this evening.

Ariel Cohen, the meteorologist in charge of the weather service office for Los Angeles, said that the storms were historic and that it was “one of the wettest storm systems to impact the greater Los Angeles area since the history of records of weather have been made, going back to the 1870s.”

Light to moderate rain will continue to intermittently affect the Los Angeles area over the next several hours, Cohen said at a news conference around 5:30 p.m.

“The ground is extremely saturated — supersaturated. It’s not able to hold any additional water before sliding,” Cohen said. “It’s not going to take much rain for additional landslides, mudslides, rockslides and other debris flows to occur.”

“The risk for additional landslides remains very high, and everyone needs to remain at a high state of readiness as we head through the overnight hours,” he said.

11w ago / 8:56 PM EST

Biden via phone tells L.A., ‘We’ll get any help on the way as soon as you guys request it’

In a cellphone call during a news conference in Los Angeles tonight, President Joe Biden said that the federal government would provide whatever assistance is needed following a major storm that caused mudslides.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass held the phone to a microphone during the news conference, which had begun before the call.

“We’ll get any help on the way as soon as you guys request it,” Biden said. "So just let me know. That's why I'm calling."

Biden said he also had just spoken with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Biden said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was well-positioned to provide assistance.

Bass said earlier that she also spoke with Vice President Kamala Harris, who represented California in the Senate.

11w ago / 8:42 PM EST

‘Tough day’ for Los Angeles, mayor says

The storms that have pounded Los Angeles and caused mudslides has affected people all over the city, including around 100 unhoused people living in a tiny home community, the mayor said.

The people in that community, which flooded, were being moved to a nearby shelter, Mayor Karen Bass said.

There have been more than 120 mudslides and debris flows in the city because of the rain that has saturated hillsides, Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin Crowley said this evening. Around 6 to 11 inches of rain has fallen over the region, she said.

“As this storm continues, there are many water-soaked hillsides that have the potential to slide,” Crowley said.

Bass said some homeowners have been devastated by the damage caused by mudslides. “This has been a tough day for our city, a tough day for Angelenos,” she said.

She added that people should remain off the roads and that the weather situation is not over.

11w ago / 8:13 PM EST

Firefighters airlift man who jumped into rushing river to save dog