NewsNational News


Heavy rain, mudslides threaten California

Posted at 6:50 AM, Feb 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-28 06:58:20-05

(WTVR/CNN) – Some areas in Southern California are evacuating because of the potential for flash floods Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles County.

Authorities are warning that torrential rain will finally put a dent in the state’s severe drought — its worst in 100 years — but at a price.

Currently, California is “abnormally dry,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week.

Though rain will bring much-needed relief, mudslides are a big concern, with 6 inches of rain forecast for some areas.

“A very strong and dynamic storm will bring a significant amount of rain to much of southwestern California,” the National Weather Service said.

“A flash flood watch has been issued for several recent burn areas in Los Angeles County due to the abundant rainfall expected,” the weather service said. “There will be isolated thunderstorms … rain rates at times are expected to range from a half to 1 inch per hour, which could cause significant mud and debris flows.”

A flash flood watch remains in effect until Saturday evening for Colby, Madison and Madre burn areas in Los Angeles County.

Most of those areas are at risk because recent wildfires have razed vegetation and left hillsides bare. Affected areas under mandatory evacuation orders include Azusa and Glendora, which have the highest risk of flooding due to loss of vegetation.

Thursday police went door-to-door telling people to evacuate. Mudslides are a major concern as they threaten about 1,000 homes in the southern part of the state. This all happening after wildfires scorched close to 2,000 acres of hillsides last month, burning the vegetation that keeps the hills from sliding.

Climate experts said even with the much needed rain, California is still years behind considering there has been a statewide drought that is among the worst in recent history.

“We’re gonna get more rain in the next 48 hours than we’ve seen in the past 2 years,” NASA climatologist Bill Patzert said.

The weather system will not end with California, as the storm is forecasted to move east and is expected to collide with all the cold polar air where it could create a real mess along the east coast early next week.