Valley feels the full force of the ‘Lucifer’ storm

Southern California was drenched in record setting storms last weekend causing damage and power outages throughout the Valley.

By Paul Rosenbusch

and Solomon Smith

Southern California rainfall records doubled from Long Beach to Santa Barbara as over 6 inches of rain hit the most effected areas of Los Angeles in the relentless “Storm Lucifer” that caused widespread power outages, opened up two sinkholes and claimed at least 5 lives last weekend.

A 20-foot deep sinkhole swallowed two cars on Woodbridge Street in Studio City off Laurel Canyon Boulevard last Friday evening, February 17, injuring one motorist. At almost 15 feet deep, the hole managed to engulf one motorist in her car who was later rescued by firefighters and rushed to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  The resulting road damage due to the torrential downpour damaged sewer pipes, further exacerbating the situation.  Crews are working on both sides of Laurel Canyon Boulevard installing pumps and sewer pipes to repair the hole from both sides of the street.

“We’ve had a few delays, but we’re moving along well.” explained Brian McCormick, the Assistant Division Manager for the Waste Water Collection Systems Division. “Our primary concern is that everybody is safe.”

According to McCormick, the repairs will be complicated but crews are working around the clock to restore the roadway.  At least three separate agencies are involved in the project; the Bureau of Engineering, Bureau of Sanitation as well as an independently contracted company.

Sinkholes are a unique problem in which the road surface is destroyed along with the underground utilities, causing possible service interruptions for neighboring buildings.  In this case the sewage main also needed to be replaced and repaired, a time consuming process.

Fortunately the interruptions will be brief, according to McCormick, “It is not affecting anyone here, except for this property here,” noting one of the properties directly across from the hole. “We are working with them and all of the other properties in the area are operating.”

Santa Barbara Airport measured 4.16 inches of rainfall, double that of the previous record of 2.08″ in 1980, while Long Beach Airport received almost an inch more than the 1980 record of 1.81 inches. Ventura county saw the worst of the downpour, and flooded in several areas including Old Man Mountain and Matalija Canyon, which both received over 9 inches of rain.

Georgia-based meteorologist Ryan Maue analyzed the forecast data from the National Weather Service to estimate that California received 10 trillion gallons of water from the storm system that drenched California over the weekend.

Wind speeds of up to 65 miles per hour ripped trees from their footings, forcing the Los Angeles Fire Department to respond to nearly 150 reports of downed power lines from noon to 4 P.M. Friday. A pine tree fell into a power line on the 5300 block of Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys, killing a 55-year-old man who unknowingly stepped into a charged puddle. Over 84,000 LADWP customers have had their power restored since the peak of the storm Friday afternoon, and utility crews continue work to restore service to the remaining 1,500 customers without power.

Your thoughts?