Powerful rain storms brought on by El Niño battered California on Tuesday, causing headache-inducing road closures; mud and debris flows; flooding; and the opening of a half-dozen temporary shelters for the state’s homeless.
The current El Niño is already tied with the 1997-98 event for the strongest ever recorded in the Pacific, the NOAA announced Monday. Los Angeles International Airport recorded 1.42 inches of rain Tuesday, breaking a 37-year-old daily record, according to NBC News, while Santa Monica recorded nearly an inch and a half and Malibu recorded 1.76 inches. Forecasts call for more rain storms Wednesday and Thursday, leading the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning for low-lying and burn areas in southern California.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is working quickly to provide shelter for the homeless. The county opened four new makeshift shelters Monday night and an additional three on Tuesday night, according to CBS Los Angeles. The shelters, located in county-owned gymnasiums, can accommodate nearly 1,200 people.
The driving rain led to an eight-hour closure of part of the 101 Freeway near Ventura for much of the day Tuesday, Fox11 reported. A drain in the north-south median of the freeway was apparently blocked by a massive mud buildup, causing mud and debris to overflow onto the highway.
Meanwhile, a thoroughfare in Arcadia was closed off as floodwaters spilled out into the street, and the flooded Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley forced at least one driver to abandon their vehicle and wade toward higher ground. A voluntary evacuation order was issued for residents of Silverado Canyon in Orange County, due to fears of mudslides.
The National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory warning for Humboldt County beaches in northern California. The weather service said the area could see waves between 20 to 24 feet in height, and the advisory remains in effect until 10 am Thursday.
The rain appears to be far from over; California is poised to see a “storm train” throughout this week. When the dust (or mud) settles, the state could see double its average annual rainfall along the coast, when the El Niño finally calms down later this spring.