Heavy rainfall hits Southern California, causing some havoc, with more to follow

Heavy rainfall hits Southern California, causing some havoc, with more to follow

Heavy rain made for traffic nightmares in parts of Southern California on Thursday, Feb. 1, as flooded streets and freeways forced many to seek detours on their way to work or school.

Some had to abandon plans completely after their vehicles became stuck in flood waters. Street closures were declared in Huntington Beach and in Palos Verdes Estates, while other coastal areas such as Long Beach and Seal Beach endured overrun intersections.

The heaviest rainfall occurred in the morning hours, according to meteorologists. Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and portions of the Palos Verdes Peninsula saw more than an inch of rain before 8 a.m.

Water fills up Marina Drive at 7th Street, just south of Pacific Coast Highway, in Seal Beach on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Chapman University students share an umbrella as they wait to cross the intersection at Glassell Street at E. Palm Avenue in Orange as they make their way in the rain between classes on Thursday morning, Feb. 1, 2024. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Chapman University students walk in the rain along Glassell Street in Orange as they make their way between classes on Thursday morning, Feb. 1, 2024. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Chapman University students cross Glassell Street at E. Palm Avenue in Orange as they make their way in the rain between classes on Thursday morning, Feb. 1, 2024. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A cyclists passes between two umbrellas at the intersection of Glassell Street at E. Palm Avenue, near Chapman University, in Orange as rain fell on Thursday morning, Feb. 1, 2024. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Barren trees are reflected in a puddle in a parking lot at Irvine Regional Park in Orange as a storm moved through Orange County on Thursday morning, Feb. 1. 2024. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Rivers flow through Towsley Canyon after morning rain in Santa Clarita, CA, on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. A storm dropped heavy rain in some areas Thursday morning, flooding some areas. A much larger storm system is expected in Southern California beginning Sunday. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Rain clouds begin to break up over Towsley Canyon in Santa Clarita, CA, on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. A storm dropped heavy rain in some areas Thursday morning, flooding some areas. A much larger storm system is expected in Southern California beginning Sunday. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A lone truck passes under clearing skies along the 126 freeway in Castaic on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. A storm dropped heavy rain in some areas Thursday morning, flooding some areas. A much larger storm system is expected in Southern California beginning Sunday. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Water beads up on foliage in Towsley Canyon after morning rain in Santa Clarita, CA, on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. A storm dropped heavy rain in some areas Thursday morning, flooding some areas. A much larger storm system is expected in Southern California beginning Sunday. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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Savina Aguiar had to climb out of the driver’s-side window of her Mazda 3 sedan after it got stuck in floodwaters along Willow Street near the Terminal Island Freeway in the Long Beach area about 6:45 a.m.

Aguiar was on her way to work and saw other sedans passing through the area and thought she could, too.

“I tried to pass by and I got stuck in a ditch,” Aguiar said. “It doesn’t look as deep as it is, and when you get in there, there’s a bunch of potholes, and I think I just got stuck in one of the potholes.

“From there, you’re just stuck, and the water acts fast,” she added.

Two other cars would also get stuck, Aguiar said, adding that her car at one point became completely submerged.

She remained near her car, waiting for the water level to go down enough for a company to tow the Mazda out.

In Costa Mesa, Orange County firefighters used an inflatable raft and rope system to rescue a man trapped in a storm channel near Sunflower Avenue and Fairview Street. Firefighters brought the man to safety, and he was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Elsewhere, Caltrans officials temporarily closed Pacific Coast Highway, from Seapoint Street to Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach, due to flooding. Also closed were the northbound lanes in the 30000 block of Palos Verdes Drive West in Palos Verdes Estates.

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Traffic snarled on the southbound 710 Freeway at Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach, once again because of flooding, with cars and big rigs alike moving to just inches from the median wall to find a passable passage through the water.

In Riverside County, officials closed two lanes of the southbound 15 Freeway in Eastvale, but officials were otherwise not too concerned Thursday as rainfall projections for the area had decreased, said Shane Reichardt, a spokesman for the Riverside County Emergency Management Agency. They were, however, more concerned about the next storm system anticipated to hit starting Sunday.

Anaheim collected 2.3 inches of rain, while Garden Grove received more than 2 inches. Woodland Hills and Agoura Hills both had more than 2 inches fall on them. The Lake Elsinore area got 1.3, while Cucamonga Canyon, north of Upland, absorbed 1.38 inches.

“The two things about this are the rainfall amounts and the threats for flooding and the winds,” said Philip Gonsalves, a National Weather Service meteorologist, adding that areas in Orange County saw wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour.

The heavy rainfall led to Long Beach and Los Angeles County officials issuing ocean advisories, suggesting beach-goers stay out of the water for at least 72 hours following the storm because of the potential for elevated bacteria levels from runoff.

Those recommendations will likely exceed 72 hours, though.

Another stronger storm was forecast to start hitting Los Angeles County late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, said Rose Schoenfeld, another National Weather Service meteorologist.

That second system, projected to continue into Tuesday, could bring widespread, continuous rainfall across the region for 24 to 36 hours, she said. Many areas were projected to see 2 to 4 inches of rain during the second storm, while south-facing mountain slopes could see double those totals.

“Avoid driving if you can, and drive cautiously if you are,” Shoenfeld said.