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I-5 Flooding Leaves Cars In Mud, As Debris and Mud are Cleared; New Storm Threatens

Posted: Friday, October 16, 2015 – 7:16 PM

(CNS) – Traffic began moving again today on the Golden State (5) Freeway through the Grapevine as crews cleared mud, rocks and other debris from the roadway even as another storm threatened to dump more rain in the area.

Dozens of vehicles were inundated on the 5 Freeway Thursday afternoon when mud slid across the roadway amid a powerful storm. The closure of the freeway choked off the main artery between Los Angeles and California’s Central Valley.

Showers and thunderstorms on Thursday produced heavy rain and hail in the area north of Castaic from the 5 Freeway to Lancaster and points east. About 2 1/2 inches of rain fell in the affected area, portions of which were covered with golf ball-sized hail.

The 5 Freeway was blocked by mud, rocks and debris between Fort Tejon north of Gorman and Parker Road in the Castaic area.

The northbound freeway was reopened shortly before 1 p.m., and two lanes on the southbound side were reopened about 4:15 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

During the closure, northbound traffic was directed off the freeway three miles north of Santa Clarita at Parker Road, while southbound traffic was diverted at Grapevine Road, according to the CHP.

Some motorists looking for an alternate route, however, likely were caught in a separate debris flow in Kern County, where up to 20 feet of mud slid onto state Route 58 in Tehachapi, trapping as many as 200 vehicles.

Motorists trying to head south were being advised to take state Routes 41 or 166 to southbound U.S. Highway 101 to eastbound state Route 126.

State route 14, which was closed Thursday, re-opened early today.

During Thursday’s storm, flooding and mud flows devastated the Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth areas, where vehicles were trapped in mud and some houses inundated.

County fire crews helped some motorists escape their swamped vehicles and get to safety. Aerial video showed a recreational vehicle on its side, apparently swept off a road by a mud flow. Flood and mud also damaged homes in Palmdale and Lancaster.

Rainfall records for Oct. 15 were set Thursday in Palmdale (0.94 of an inch) and Sandberg (0.65 of an inch), breaking the previous records of 0.04 of an inch and 0.15 of an inch, both set in 1935, according to the National Weather Service.

A record was also set at Fox Field in Lancaster, where 0.65 of an inch fell, breaking the previous record of a trace amount set in 2005.

Palmdale officials said 10 homes were damaged by the storm. But no injuries were reported in any of the storms or mudslides.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said he will ask his colleagues on Tuesday to declare a state of emergency for the areas of Quartz Hill, Leona Valley, Lake Hughes, Lake Elizabeth and surrounding areas.

Complicating cleanup efforts in the area was the threat of more rainfall today. Forecasters said any storms that develop over the region will be slow- moving, increasing the chance of heavy rainfall.

A flash flood watch will be in force until early evening in the Antelope Valley and mountain areas in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. A moist and unstable atmosphere will prevail in those areas, “bringing the threat of strong and locally severe thunderstorms,” according to the National Weather Service.

NWS forecasters noted that numerous road closures were in effect in the Antelope Valley and the mountains of Los Angeles County due to Thursday’s episodes of flash flooding and mud and debris flows.

“The threat of additional heavy rainfall … could impact clean-up operations and force additional road closures,” it warned. “There will be the potential for additional flash flooding as well as mud and debris flows across the watch area Friday afternoon into early evening.”

Meanwhile, Amtrak Thruway bus service between Los Angeles and Bakersfield was suspended for Saturday because of the problems on the 5 and state Route 58, Amtrak announced.

CNS-10-16-2015 17:18

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