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Hail, thunderstorms, powerful winds expected as new storm moves into L.A. Tuesday evening

December 21, 2010 | 10:22 am


Southern California was bracing for another powerful storm front Tuesday evening as a sixth straight day of rain brought dramatic rescues, flooded freeways and concerns about mudslides.

According to the National Weather Service, scattered showers Tuesday will give way to heavy rain at night. Officials said the rain will continue into Wednesday with a chance of hail, high winds and thunderstorms. The weather service said the wind will be so strong in some mountain communities Wednesday morning that it could uproot trees. Gusts in some areas could top 65 mph.

The snow level is expected to drop to 4,500 feet.

Traffic was jammed on the westbound 101 Freeway in Encino after an accident Tuesday morning. Highway 1 remains closed through a eight-mile stretch of Ventura County due to rock and mud slides, as do many mountain roads in the Station fire burn zone around La Crescenta and La Canada Flintridge.

Four men stranded in Orange County's Trabuco Canyon were rescued Tuesday morning when they were plucked from the flooded foothills by helicopter.The men were spotted soon after daybreak when the helicopter flew over the fast-moving Trabuco Creek and saw them inside their vehicle.

A woman who was swept away in her pickup while crossing a rain-swollen creek in the San Bernardino National Forest was rescued Monday night after a harrowing four-hour recovery effort, officials said.
The 29-year-old woman was crossing Lytle Creek north of San Bernardino shortly before 5 p.m. in her Ford pickup when the high water washed away the road and started carrying the vehicle downstream.

As water filled her cab up to the dashboard, the woman used her cellphone to call for help, officials said.

More than 5 inches of rain have already fallen in downtown Los Angeles this month, and the record of 8.77 inches for December is within reach. Mammoth Mountain has already recorded the highest December snow levels ever.

Authorities say the mountainsides near Sierra Madre are holding up amid the rains, but a potential evacuation alert is ongoing to keep residents prepared.

Aside from some blockage on the 800 block of Skyland Drive, police are reporting unobstructed water flow. Sgt. Kenneth Berry with the Sierra Madre Police Department credited efforts in the last two months to clear out debris basins.

“As of right now, the mountainside is holding up,” Berry said. The green flag alert, Berry said, is meant solely to keep residents prepared for a quick evacuation if the expected stormy weather does cause mud flow later in the day.

“We just have to have people prepared,” Berry said.


Photos: Series of storms hits Southern California

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-- Robert Faturechi and Robert J. Lopez

Image credit: National Weather Service