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Potentially "life-threatening" flooding possible as second atmospheric river hits California

The latest on the severe atmospheric river pounding Southern California
The latest on the severe atmospheric river pounding Southern California 09:17

A second powerful atmospheric river arrived in Southern California Sunday, bringing heavy rain and what the National Weather Service Los Angeles office called a "high risk for life-threatening and damaging flooding."

This, coupled with incoming mountain snow, prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency in eight counties, including Los Angeles and Orange. L.A. and San Bernardino counties later declared their own states of emergency.

"Los Angeles County is taking action to protect our communities during the storm and to recover from any impacts that may result," said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Lindsey P. Horvath. 

RELATED: How much rain has fallen on Southern California so far?

The emergency proclamation will help expedite procurement of vital supplies and resources, deployment of disaster service workers and the use of emergency protective measures such as evacuation orders, officials explained.

The weather service's L.A. office issued a Flash Flood Warning early Monday for "the Santa Monica Mountains to the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park as well as the Adjacent Foothills in the Valleys, and the Cities of Malibu and Beverly Hills of Los Angeles County in southwestern California ... until 900 AM PST Monday. ... At 1138 PM PST, Numerous damaging landslides, flooded roadways, submerged vehicles, and flooded creeks and streams are ongoing in the warning area. Doppler radar indicated heavy rain across the warned area."

The L.A. office also posted a flood watch that lasts until 4 p.m. Tuesday, using all capital letters in mentioning the "HIGH RISK FOR LIFE-THREATENING AND DAMAGING FLOODING."

Earlier, the office said, "This is one of the most dramatic weather days in recent memory," adding that, "This is a DANGEROUS SYSTEM with major risks to life and property." The office again used the capital letters.

Early Monday morning, the office said on X, the former Twitter, that there was an "EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION UNFOLDING IN THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS AREA AND AROUND THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS. Life threatening landslides and additional flash flooding expected overnight tonight. Avoid travel if at all possible." Again -- the office used the capital letters for emphasis.

San Bernadino County Fire said on X early Monday that it had rescued three people from rushing waters. "No injuries, however all being evaluated for hypothermia," the department said.

The city of Torrance issued a flood warning Sunday evening, cautioning that debris flows were imminent or occurring. Residents were urged to take immediate precautions to protect life and property and avoid nonessential travel.

Rain is forecast to continue through Tuesday. The highest rainfall totals are expected in L.A. County, with 4 to 8 inches in the metro area and 8 to 14 inches in the mountains and foothills, according to the NWS. With the heavy rain expected to linger, officials have asked people to work from home if possible.

Early Monday, the weather service noted that, "The tail end of a powerful atmospheric river storm will bring a threat (of) heavy rain and heavy snow to mostly LA county through Tuesday. For L.A. county, dangerous flooding is likely today along with several feet of mountain snow through tonight. The storm will taper off Tuesday. Off and on again showers will follow Wednesday through Friday with cooler than normal conditions. "

The storm also became a record-breaker Sunday. The weather service said downtown L.A. had 4.10 inches of rain, "exceeded daily record of 2.55" set in 1927."

More than 600,000 homes and businesses were without power in California early Monday, according to

Mayor Bass: 'This has the potential to be a historic storm' 05:02

"Storms can change quickly, but let me be clear: This storm is a serious weather event. This has the potential to be a historic storm, severe winds, thunderstorms, and even brief tornadoes," said Mayor Karen Bass during an afternoon news briefing.

Flood Watch remains in effect 

NWS issues "rare" flash flood outlook from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles 01:12

A flood watch remained in effect for all areas. According to forecasters, flooding was possible along freeways as well as in neighborhoods, impacting even parked cars due to the sheer amount of anticipated rain. Commuters are urged to avoid freeways Monday morning.

Strong, damaging winds are likely, prompting the NWS to issue a rare winter storm warning for Ventura County and northward, as well as for the mountains of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, including Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Running Springs, and Wrightwood. The winter storm warning means excessive rainfall could produce flash flooding. 

Los Angeles County is not under the storm warning but is under a gale warning, which means sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts in the range of 39 mph to 54 mph could occur. Winds will be lighter Monday and into Tuesday. Stronger winds could return by Wednesday.

L.A. County Evacuation Orders/Warnings 

An evacuation order has been issued for some residents along La Tuna Canyon Road (roughly within the area bounded by Horse Haven to the north, Martindale to the east, Primrose to the south and Ledge to the west) due to the high risk of debris flow.

Evacuation orders in place ahead of potential 'historic' SoCal storm 00:30

An evacuation center for those with household pets has opened at Sunland Senior Citizen Center, located at 8640 Fenwick Street Sunland as well as at the Lake View Terrace Recreation Center, located at 11075 Foothill Boulevard.

Large animals can be evacuated to Hansen Dam Horse Park at 11127 Orcas Avenue, in Lake View Terrace, and the LA Equestrian Center at 480 Riverside Drive, Burbank.

Elsewhere, in Malibu, an evacuation order has been issued due to possible mud and debris flows in the area along Santa Maria Road, north of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. The evacuation order includes the areas along Soledad Canyon Road east of the Agua Dulce Canyon Road. 

RELATED: Mudslides damage three homes in San Fernando Valley

Evacuation orders have also been issued for the areas around the Owen Fire, including the areas of Topanga Zone 4 which includes Santa Maria Road from Topanga Canyon. An evacuation warning has also been issued for areas of unincorporated LA County near the Agua Fire, Bobcat Fire (north end), Lake Fire and Owen Fire burn scars areas. These orders and warnings will remain in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday. 

There is also an evacuation warning at the Fish Fire burn scar in Duarte through 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Caltrans tweeted Sunday night that drivers should stay off mountain routes during the storm. High winds were clocked on State Route 2 at post mile 57.5 in the Angeles Forest in the afternoon. 

Ventura County Evacuation Orders/Warnings 

Parts of Ventura County were already under evacuation orders because of the storm, including for unincorporated Ojai, which includes residents living near Matilija Canyon, North Fork and Camino Cielo until Sunday at 5 p.m. 

Evacuation warnings have been issued for the Foster Park/Camp Chaffee community, Creek Road/Old Creek Road, two Grada Avenue homes, and two Trueno Avenue homes.

Residents in Ventura County brace for powerful storm and potential for flash flooding 02:49

"We've already seen the storm hit us last week and soil is already saturated. Flash floods as a result can occur without warning," said Sgt. Cyrus Zadeh of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. "Please stay alert not only to the road conditions, but we're asking people to be alert to our evacuation warnings, evacuation orders, and advisories."

An evacuation center was established at Ventura College Gymnasium, 4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura.

Orange County Evacuation Warnings 

Authorities issued a voluntary evacuation warning for Silverado, Williams, Modjeska and Trabuco canyons.

Santa Barbara County Evacuation Orders

Evacuation orders were in place for the following areas in Santa Barbara County, including properties along waterways associated with the Thomas, Cave and Alisal burn areas, as well as properties in the vicinity of Sycamore Creek, from Stanwood Drive down to parts of Ninos Drive in the city of Santa Barbara, and all state campgrounds including Gaviota, Refugio, El Capitan and Carpinteria.

Snow levels to fall 

In addition, snow levels were still fairly low but are expected to increase to 6500-7500 ft. By Monday, the NWS says that snow levels will drop to 5000-6000 ft, and will fall further to 4000-5000 ft on Tuesday.

School closures

Officials with the LAUSD have indicated that schools will remain open Monday. However, Vinedale College Preparatory Academy will be moved to Glenwood Elementary School. Elsewhere, in Santa Barbara, schools will be closed on Feb. 5th. 

California State University said that it might shift its in-person classes to online instruction or alternative assignments for its campus in LA, Northridge, Long Beach, and Fullerton on Monday. They took this step "out of an abundance of caution" and asked students to check in with their instructors and Canvas pages. 

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