Southern California hit by strong storm leaving 5 dead

LOS ANGELES — Southern California region in western United States was hit by a massive Pacific storm last weekend, which was described by weather service as the strongest in years, leaving at least 5 dead.

The storm swept into Southern California since Friday morning, bringing torrential rain and gusting winds to the region while also spreading precipitation up to San Francisco, 700 kilometers north to Los Angeles and down to Imperial Valley, 300 kilometers southeast to the second biggest city in the country.

In El Centro of Imperial County, the southernmost desert city below sea level in the continental United States, a light drizzle lasted more than 10 hours.

“This region had over 350 days of sunshine and under 3 inches (76 mm) of rain annually, these two days you will see a very different view in the valley,” Ralph Cordova, the County Executive Office, told Xinhua on Saturday.

Record-breaking rainfall was recorded across southwestern California. Santa Barbara Airport saw 4.16 inches (105 mm) of rain, beating the record of 2.08 inches (52 mm) set in 1980, according to the National Weather Service.

“The storm looks to be the strongest storm to hit southwest California this season,” the National Weather Service office for the Los Angeles region wrote on Twitter. “It is likely the strongest within the last six years and possibly even as far back as December 2004 or January 1995.”

The storm generated a total of 3 to 6 inches (76 mm to 152 mm) of rain in Los Angeles County beaches and valleys, according to local TV station. By Sunday morning, some isolated locations received up to 10 inches of rain.

Affected by high wind and heavy downpours which turned creeks and rivers into brown torrents, several stretches of freeways and highways were shut down from floods.

The local KABC TV station reported that at least 5 people died in traffic and electrocution accidents after the powerful storm, while in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, two cars plunged into a massive sinkhole.

Moreover, more than 80,000 customers were affected by power outages in the Los Angeles area alone, where hundreds of trees and dozens of power lines had toppled. As of 7 a.m. Sunday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said that approximately 20,000 electric customers were still without power.

However, this storm and persistent precipitation in recent month had significantly improved California’s drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor, and the most severe levels evaluated by the agency had been virtually lifted in the entire state since it first appeared on Jan. 24, 2014. PNA/