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Rains bring mudslide; wind and snow on the way

December 29, 2010 |  2:46 pm

The latest in a series of rainstorms moved through Southern California on Wednesday, leaving behind flooded roads and causing a major mudslide on a local freeway.

Two lanes of the eastbound 91 Freeway near Green River Parkway were closed by the mudslide, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP was alerted about 11:30 a.m. to debris falling on the freeway, CHP Officer Gabe Montoya said. Several lanes along a 200-yard stretch of the freeway were covered in six inches of mud, he said.

The CHP closed the outermost two lanes about 1 p.m. and dispatched cleanup crews, Montoya said. The lanes are scheduled to reopen by 6 p.m., and crews are working to clean up the mud before commuters hit the freeway later Wednesday, he said.

The mudslide was triggered by a "combination of rains and construction in the area," Montoya said. "We're talking about bare hillsides here, versus vegetated."

Although eastbound traffic will be slowed by the closure, there are still three lanes of the freeway open, he said.

Elsewhere, a portion of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu was closed due to rock slides.

Weather forecasters said the rains will give way to powerful winds and dropping snow levels that could cause more traffic woes in key mountain passes, including the Grapevine. Wind gusts of more than 50 mph were recorded Wednesday morning at Lake Palmdale.

A National Weather Service advisory warned that "damaging winds are likely" across portions of Southern California through Wednesday evening and into Thursday morning.

Strong winds are already sweeping through mountain and interior valleys in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, according to the advisory.

Gusts between 40 and 50 mph will be common, the advisory said, and in some mountain passes, winds could reach up to 75 mph.

The winds are expected to shift later Wednesday afternoon, with the strongest gusts along the Interstate 5 corridor and the valleys of Los Angeles County, according to the advisory.

The combination of very strong winds and blowing snow is expected to cause treacherous driving conditions near the Grapevine, officials said.


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Photo: Cameron Fuhrman, 9, of Fontana plays in freshly fallen snow in Wrightwood. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times