Storm Spawns Drenching Rains, Strong Wind
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A drenching storm swept through Southern California on Wednesday, spawning damaging winds, power outages and freeway wrecks. Slopes burned bare in recent wildfires held up in the deluge.
A whirlwind shattered store windows, twisted metal roofs and knocked over trees in Norwalk, 15 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
``It was a twister of some sort,″ said Dennis Maldonado, whose Maldonado Bail Bonds storefront was damaged. ``It took off a glass door and made it fly away like it was levitating.
National Weather Service meteorologist Rob Krohn said there was no confirmation that it was a tornado, but Maldonado was convinced.
``I saw the movie `Twister’ and that’s what it looked like,″ he said.
The fall storm backed up freeway traffic behind wrecked cars and jackknifed big rigs. Residents in areas recently hit by wildfires sandbagged to protect their homes.
Nearly an inch of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles by noon, but there was much heavier rainfall elsewhere.
The rain led to a spate of crashes. The California Highway Patrol reported 170 accidents during a four-hour period ending at 9 a.m., double the dry-day accident tally.
``It was pretty hectic out there,″ said Officer Rhett Price.
More than 7,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers lost power due to downed lines, said utility spokeswoman Treva Miller.
In fire-ravaged Malibu, there were fears a downpour would send ash and debris from bare hills into homes. Sandbags popped up around homes, but the rain soaked into the ground. A flash flood watch was in effect all day.
``We dodged the bullet,″ said interim City Manager Mark Lorimer.
Workers in Carlsbad erected sandbag barricades. A flash flood watch was posted for the fire burn area in northern San Diego County where 101 homes were destroyed and 139 were damaged in last week’s wildfires.
In the mountains, a Big Bear ski resort was gearing up for one of its earliest-ever openings. Snow Summit was tentatively set to open Friday with an 18-inch manmade base and an expected 6 inches of natural snow.
``This would be our earliest opening since the 1970s. It’s very exciting,″ said Snow Summit spokeswoman Genevieve Paquet.