Los Angeles and California gets pelted with record rains and floods in storm state of emergency

Los Angeles, California – A powerful storm lashing California has killed at least one person, causing mudslides and flooding as Los Angeles experienced one of its wettest days ever.

A home destroyed by a mudslide as a powerful long-duration atmospheric river storm, the second in less than a week, continued to impact Los Angeles, California on Monday.
A home destroyed by a mudslide as a powerful long-duration atmospheric river storm, the second in less than a week, continued to impact Los Angeles, California on Monday.  © MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

More than ten inches of rain was recorded in one part of Los Angeles County in 24 hours of downpour on Monday, with no letup forecast in the coming days. The rain has been pelting the area since Sunday morning, and drenched attendees of the Grammy Awards clad in formal wear in the evening.

Mountainsides collapsed in the swanky Hollywood Hills area, burying cars and damaging houses, while in nearby Beverly Glen, a mudslide knocked one home off its foundation. The house's contents –including a piano – were swept onto the road in the swanky neighborhood, where homes routinely change hands for millions of dollars.

"It sounded like lightning," resident Dave Christensen told broadcaster KTLA.

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"When I went out to... see what was there, I thought I saw a water heater where the house used to be and sure enough it was because the house had slid off the hill and into the road."

The Los Angeles Fire Department said it had recorded 130 floods and 39 debris flows, with the risk of more to come as Monday's rain ramps back up.

California declares state of emergency as Los Angeles sees flooding

Los Angelenos surveyed damage by a landslide in a hillside residential neighborhood as the biggest storm of the season inundated the Studio City section of LA on Monday, amid a state of emergency.
Los Angelenos surveyed damage by a landslide in a hillside residential neighborhood as the biggest storm of the season inundated the Studio City section of LA on Monday, amid a state of emergency.  © DAVID MCNEW / AFP

The rainfall is part of an atmospheric river that is rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, a ribbon of moisture that is dumping billions of gallons of water.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) said much more rain was expected, and warned of "life-threatening flash flooding."

"An ongoing atmospheric river event will continue to produce multiple rounds of heavy rainfall to parts of southern California including the Los Angeles Basin through Tuesday," the agency said. "Dangerous small streams, urban and river flooding, mudslides, strong winds and high surf will all be possible."

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Up to eight more inches of rain could fall, the agency said, taking the running total in some areas to 14 inches. The extreme weather led California Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency for a large part of Southern California.

"This is a serious storm with dangerous and potentially life-threatening impacts," he said.

Downtown Los Angeles saw one of its wettest days ever, with more than four inches of rain, according to the local NWS office.

"It is vital now more than ever, stay safe and off the roads," Mayor Karen Bass said. "Only leave your house if it is absolutely necessary."

Travel was tricky throughout the region, with highways jammed and city streets flooded.

Problems with drainage regularly leave intersections flooded in Los Angeles, where infrastructure struggles to cope with even moderate amounts of rain. The weather was causing difficulty for fliers, with more than a dozen flights cancelled and hundreds delayed out of Los Angeles Airport, according to Flightaware.com.

The atmospheric river is part of a phenomenon known as a "pineapple express," a weather system that brings tropical moisture from the ocean near Hawaii. The NWS described it as "the largest storm of the season."

Nearly 400,000 customers across the state were without power by Monday lunchtime, according to electricity supply tracker PowerOutage.us.

While wet weather is not unusual during California's winters, scientists say human-caused climate change is altering the planet's weather patterns. This makes storms wetter, more violent and unpredictable, while causing dry periods to be hotter and longer.

Cover photo: DAVID MCNEW / AFP

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