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‘Storm of the season’ dumps record-breaking rainfall on Southern California

  (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press) Streets flooded in North Hollywood’s Arts District and other neighborhoods. The normally constraine...

 

(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Streets flooded in North Hollywood’s Arts District and other neighborhoods.

The normally constrained L.A. River roared to life, sucking vehicles down its surging waters and swamping the small islands that dot the middle of the urban waterway near Atwater Village. A man in Sylmar had to be rescued after he got swept up into its flow.

Trees were toppled in Whittier, while homeless people who normally occupy benches near the Civic Center stop downtown huddled in an alcove in an effort to stay dry.

The most significant storm of the season arrived in Southern California on Tuesday with a wallop — snarling traffic, delivering gusty winds and dropping a steady deluge of record-breaking rain and snow across the region.

“As far as intensity, it’s one of our stronger storms,” said Kristan Lund, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It’s definitely the strongest we’ve seen so far, and potentially one of the stronger ones we’ll see this season.”

Despite the headaches storms bring to a region where the sun shines most days, the weather system marked a meaningful change for drought-parched California, which has in recent months seen snowpack and reservoir levels dwindle to near-historic lows amid a statewide drought emergency.

The state experienced its hottest summer on record this year, while Los Angeles had no rain last month — its driest November in nearly 30 years, according to the weather service.

Officials said Tuesday’s rainfall on its own won’t end the drought, but it was an improvement.

“This just brings us back to slightly above normal,” said David Gomberg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “We’re just trying to catch up to what even normal is for this time of year. It would take a few of these [storms] to really make a significant dent.”

By day’s end, 1 to 2 inches of rain had fallen across most parts of Los Angeles, while other areas of the state received even more. Parts of Santa Barbara County saw more than 7 inches, and Woodland Hills surpassed 4 inches by noon.

The National Weather Service said the slow-moving storm broke several rainfall records for the date. With more than 2 inches of rain by noon, downtown Los Angeles far surpassed its previous Dec. 14 record of 0.96 inches set back in 1888.

By nightfall, the weather service’s Oxnard office confirmed new daily records for seven locations from Los Angeles to Santa Maria, including 0.72 inches of rain in Lancaster, nearly triple the previous record of 0.25 inches in 1970; 1.29 inches at Los Angeles International Airport, smashing the 0.38-inch mark set in 1993; and 1.81 inches at Hollywood Burbank Airport, more than six times the record of 0.29 inches set in 1965.

Precipitation records for the day were also broken in Orange County, according to the weather service’s San Diego office. Anaheim received 1.38 inches of rain, breaking the old record of 0.24 inches set in 2015. Santa Ana saw 1.63 inches of rain, breaking the record of 0.80 inches set in 1934.

Some residents took to social media to celebrate the arrival of precipitation.

“I was up at 4:30 just to listen to the beautiful rain here in L.A.,” one person said on Twitter.


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