Southern California A slow-moving Pacific storm prompted evacuations on Thursday in cities and beach towns along California’s southern coast as streets were submerged beneath floodwaters.
Evacuations in Oxnard and Port Hueneme
The cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme, both in Ventura County, issued evacuation orders for some coastal areas, and at least one shelter was opened for residents fleeing their homes. The Oxnard Fire Department and police executed water rescues, urging residents to stay off roads due to widespread flooding. Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths.
Damage in Port Hueneme: Southern California
The beachside city of Port Hueneme bore the brunt of the storm damage, with around 60 homes in a senior community evacuated overnight. Crews worked tirelessly to clear drains and manage water flow, grappling with the overwhelming rain that inundated the area.
Unprecedented Downpours in Oxnard
Climate scientist Daniel Swain highlighted the extraordinary nature of the storm, noting that preliminary data suggested the heaviest downpours ever observed in Oxnard, particularly overnight.
National Weather Service’s Alarming Assessment
In an advisory, weather service meteorologists reported 2-6 inches of rain over Ventura County, with an additional 1-4 inches expected. The storm’s intensity prompted concerns about rock and mudslides on canyon and mountain roads, leading to potential travel delays.
Flash Flood Warning in Santa Barbara County
A flash flood warning was issued for south Santa Barbara County, urging residents to move to higher ground. The Santa Barbara Police Department emphasized the extreme danger of flash flooding, advising people to seek shelter in the innermost room of their homes.
Impact on Transportation and Schools
The storm disrupted travel, with delays and cancellations at Los Angeles International Airport. Despite the storm conditions, the Oxnard Union High School District remained open. Meanwhile, reports from the Oxnard Fire Department described cars stuck in flooded roadways and urged residents to stay off the streets.
Forecast for Los Angeles and San Diego
The storm was far from over, impacting approximately 27 million people in the flood watch area, including the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas. AccuWeather forecasted that Los Angeles would experience the most significant impact, with rain and strong winds persisting into the evening. Coastal areas were expected to receive 2-5 inches of rain, while mountainous regions could see up to 10 inches.
El Niño-Influenced Storm: First Since Hurricane Hilary
This storm marked the area’s first El Niño-influenced event, fueled by an atmospheric river of moisture, according to the National Weather Service. It was anticipated to be the most substantial rainstorm since Hurricane Hilary in August.
Statewide Impact and Tornado in Oroville: Southern California
The same storm had already wreaked havoc in Northern and Central California, causing flooding and damage. Oroville, located 65 miles north of Sacramento, experienced a tornado with winds of up to 90 mph on Tuesday, damaging at least one building and downing trees. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries.
As the storm continued its path, concerns over potential flooding persisted in Southern California, with meteorologists closely monitoring the evolving weather conditions.