Blame it on the rain

Courtesy of Lynn Jamison

The bigger of two storms to assault California touched down on Feb. 27, providing some much needed rain for the water-starved state but also releasing a slew of hazards upon its inhabitants, causing mandatory evacuations in several cities, including Glendora and Azusa.

After the Southern face of the San Gabriel Mountains was left vulnerable from the recent Colby fire with little vegetation left on the hillside and severely baked soil, nearly 1,000 homes north of Sierra Madre were in a required evacuation, especially residences between Yucca Ridge Road and Glendora Mountain Road in Glendora and above Ridge View Drive in Azusa.

Beginning Feb. 27 at noon, residents were told to evacuate their homes, with an evacuation center located at the Crowther Center in Glendora.  According to Chris Jeffers, City Manager of Glendora, very few people chose to stay at the evacuation center, with only two individuals appearing late on March 1.

According to experts, this was the biggest downpour to hit Los Angeles County in two years and local authorities were especially concerned of mudslides ravaging hillside homes and blocking roads.

Captain Eddie Lozano of Glendora Fire Station 151 states, “The city of Glendora was very proactive in preparing for this storm. The area was assessed by the city and the Department of Water and Power to determine where K-rails and sandbags should be placed to lessen possible damage.”

Despite the mandatory evacuation, many residents chose to remain in their homes, relying on the use of sandbags and the erected concrete K-rail barriers that were put in place as preparation for the storm. According to city officials, nearly a mile and a half of K-rails were used and the city “stopped counting after 50,000 sandbags,” Jefferson jokingly states.

“There is no such thing as a mandatory evacuation. We can say there is, but you have the right to stay in your home,” Lozano said.

“We suggest you leave, because you are then putting yourself and us in danger.”

Urban flood warnings were one of many to be issued across the state, including strong winds, high surf and a 3:30 a.m. tornado warning on Feb. 28 for East Central Los Angeles County. The observed tornado funnel was later revealed to be cold water spouts, according to weather forecasters.

Local residents also experienced power outages as the rain and wind knocked down power lines.

A total of 32,000 citizens lost power, according to Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Despite the deluge of sorely needed rain for the state, this rogue storm will not put much of a dent in the state of drought that California is currently facing, but it is a step in the right direction according to weather forecasters.

According to Jeffers, four inches of rain fell at the base of the foothills with nearly nine inches at the ridge. With an average rainfall of more than 21 inches in Glendora, this rainfall is helpful, but is in no way enough.

While the storm may have caused local communities to prepare for the worst, it failed to pull the state out of a crippling drought crisis and storm systems such as these need to become more common in order to make an impact, according to experts.

According to Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Lab, this is the sixth driest winter in California in 135 years with only half of the normal rainfall for the season thus far. With numbers like these, the next storm cannot come soon enough.

Jeffers also wishes to “remind folks that our success depends on residents staying informed, and in situations like this it is best to stay tuned in and heed the advice of first responders.”