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Rain Soaks The Southland, Sparks Debris And Mud Flows

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A storm front originating from the Gulf of Alaska brought a steady rain across the Southland Thursday, sparking debris flows and some minor flooding in the Woolsey, Hill, Holy and Thomas fire burn areas.

Moderate to heavy rainfall continued through Thursday, and was expected to tapper off Friday morning, according to CBS2 Meteorologist Garth Kemp. Most areas will continue to experience scattered rain. The coasts and valleys could see rain totals ranging from 1 to 2 inches, while the foothills and mountains seeing 2 to 3 inches.

"Light rainfall continues but the threat for debris flows and flash flooding has decreased," the National Weather Service said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Additional showers will again pose the threat for flash flooding or debris flows later this afternoon and evening. Water will continue to flow in the dry creeks and debris is reported on roadways in Trabuco and Temescal canyons."

The Holy Fire burn area in Orange and Riverside appeared to experience the brunt of the storm.

In a Lake Elsinore home, a family was ankle-deep in mud after storms plowed through the area Thursday.
Trabuco Creek debris flow
A major debris flow in Trabuco Creek in Orange County during a storm. Nov. 29, 2018. (CBS2)

CBS2 cameras captured footage of debris flows in Trabuco Canyon. New mandatory evacuation orders -- on top of the ones already in place for about 4,000 people in the Holy Fire burn area -- were issued Thursday for Trabuco Creek, east of Lake Forest in O.C., and the Glen Ivy B zone near Lake Elsinore.

CBS2 reporter Michelle Gile described the scene Thursday morning from Trabuco Canyon Bridge. The creek was very still, and then around 11:40 a.m., tons of rocks, water and debris came barreling down from the direction of Holy Jim Canyon, where the Holy Fire broke out back in August.

K-rails were put up around Trabuco Creek Bridge to ensure that the debris does not flow into the neighborhood.

"This is what we planned for, ever since the Holy Fire broke, this is what the public works, sheriff's department, fire authority have been... getting ready for... We saw rainfall, and we were just waiting, it was a matter of time, before a potential mud or debris flow came," said Shannon Widor, a spokesperson for Orange County Public Works.

Santiago Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains received 2.65 inches of rain as of 10 a.m. Thursday, the Cleveland National Forest reported.

Cell phone video also captured footage of major debris flows in the Rice Canyon area of Lake Elsinore.

Indian, Horsethief, Temescal  and Coldwater canyons were also expected to see debris flows that consist of of ash, rock, mud and vegetation, the NWS said.

A flash flood warning expired at noon for the Holy Fire burn area. However, the NWS issued a flash flood watch through 3 a.m. Friday for the cities of Crestline, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Running Springs, Wrightwood, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Irvine, Orange, Fullerton and Mission Viejo.

A flood advisory for the Woolsey Fire burn area -- including Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Westlake Village, Malibu Creek State Park and Oak Park -- expired at 9:15 a.m without any significant reports of debris flows or mudslides.

Just after 10 a.m. in Atwater Village, Los Angeles firefighters hoisted a man to safety after he was found clinging to a tree in the rain-swollen Los Angeles River.

Crash on 118 Freeway
A semi truck jackknifed on the 118 Freeway in Chatsworth, Calif. Nov. 29, 2018. (Caltrans)

The Pacific Coast Highway and scorched hillsides in canyon areas in Malibu which have no vegetation to slow debris flow or flooding are particularly vulnerable to debris flows. There were some reports Thursday morning of minor rocks slides.

Decker Road (State Route 23) in Malibu remains closed between the Pacific Coast Highway and Mulholland Highway.

There were also some reports of rockslides on the Angeles Crest Highway.

Meanwhile, there have already been several road issues that have caused major delays and backups across the region.

A semi-truck carrying 20,000 pounds of beverages jackknifed, shutting down the westbound 118 Freeway at Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Chatsworth and prompting a Sig Alert. It was still closed as of 11:30 a.m.

A crash shut down several lanes of the northbound 101 Freeway at Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills for several hours.

A big rig lost control and was left hanging over the eastbound 134 Freeway near Figueroa Street in Eagle Rock. No one was injured.

Flooding shut down Harbor Boulevard in Ventura between Sanjon Rd. and the Ventura Pier.

Pepperdine University in Malibu canceled classes Thursday due to the rain and the possibility of more road closures.

Meanwhile, mandatory evacuations are in effect for about 4,000 people in the Holy Fire burn area in Orange and Riverside counties.

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