Intense rain, winds and snow swept through Southern Calif. this weekend, causing flooding, days-long power outages and a barrage of car accidents.
The rain began settling in Thursday, Feb. 23, increasing in intensity through the weekend and bringing unusually low temperatures that crept into the low 30s. By morning Friday, Feb. 24, snowfall started making its way through the San Gabriel Valley foothills, the Tejon Pass that connects Los Angeles to the Central Valley and freeways headed east toward San Bernardino County.
While Caltrans attempted to keep the roads clear before the snow flurries intensified, the maintenance was not enough to avoid road closures and the department instead suggested that Angelenos stay home and not travel unless it is an emergency.
“Over the next few days, storms will be coming through CA, Caltrans said in a statement. “In the areas affected, please stay off the roads if you can. If you do go out, slow down, budget more time.”
A 20-mile stretch of the Tejon Pass on the I-5 freeway was shut down to traffic due to poor visibility caused by the snow.
Road closures continued, with State Route 2 through Angeles Crest being closed for a 3-mile stretch and chains required for vehicles passing near the mountainous area.
Icy roads led to a 20-car pileup on the I-10 east toward San Bernardino County, forcing yet another road closure on the opposite end of Los Angeles County.
Through all of the road closures across the county, Caltrans said it plowed snow for more than 200 miles of freeway roads in one day.
Closures were not limited to roads, however, as all L.A. County beaches were closed to the public due to a lightning storm. The beaches were also a source of odd visuals as sheets of white hail covered the sandy surface of Hollywood Beach in the city of Oxnard.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, rain flooding made its way through the valleys of Los Angeles, causing additional road closures, most notably on the I-5 in Sun Valley, where images flooded social media of cars being stranded on the freeway and people standing on the roof of their cars to avoid the rising water. Tow trucks eventually made their way to the flooded strip of freeway and removed vehicles from the area.
That Saturday also saw the start of power outages throughout the county, with promises of quick fixes from the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (LADWP), but many homes experienced outages into the following Monday.
“Our crews continue to make progress,” LADWP said in an update. “As of this morning, we have ~27,000 customers without power. Crews have restored power to ~143,000 customers since the start of the storm. We know losing power during this storm is frustrating, but our crews won’t stop until all power is restored.”
LADWP said debris and fallen trees caused by the storm made it difficult for its crews to get to its power lines, with the obstructing trees needing to be removed.
While the storm subsided Monday, a state of emergency was declared by San Bernardino County, as multiple feet of snow left both residents and tourists trapped and snowed in, with the county not having enough resources to clear the snow on the roadways. The Red Cross opened an emergency shelter in the city of Redlands for those trapped within the county, needing food and resources.
Another rain system is expected to hit L.A. County over the next two days, although nowhere near as heavy as the weekend storm.
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