LOS ANGELES, Aug 21 (Reuters) – The first tropical storm to hit Los Angeles in more than 80 years unleashed flooding in parts of southern California more accustomed to drought, as officials urged the public to stay safe. Damage.
The National Weather Service downgraded the storm to a tropical depression, but not before California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for much of Southern California, along with a flash flood warning until 3 a.m. Monday (1000 GMT).
Mountain and desert areas could receive a rare 5 to 10 inches (12 to 25 cm) of rain, about as much as deserts typically see in a year, forecasters said.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said she was still worried people would let their guard down if Hillary left them initially unscathed, but then the storm’s bands swung back, surprising the unprepared.
“We knew it was going to get a lot worse,” Bass told a news conference Sunday. “My concern is that people will be a little dismissive and go out when people need to stay home, stay safe.”
Hillary’s center was expected to move quickly across Nevada on Monday, with the storm dissipating later in the day, the weather service said.
The storm moved northward across Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. It killed at least one person in Mexico, triggered flash floods and washed out roads.
Pictures on social media showed furious, mud-flooded streets.
It crossed the border Sunday afternoon, marking its first tropical storm to hit San Diego County and the first to hit Los Angeles County since 1939.
San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, ordered the evacuation of towns in the mountains and valleys where social media images showed floods of water, mud, rock and trees.
In heavily populated Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles, the National Weather Service warned of life-threatening flooding from the heavy rains, which dumped up to 2 inches (5 cm) of rain in less than two hours.
US President Joe Biden ordered federal agencies to move personnel and supplies to the region.
Los Angeles County’s 75,000 homeless people are particularly vulnerable, officials said, in mountain valleys and areas recently ravaged by wildfires.
As a precaution, the state’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, canceled school on Monday.
The storm stunned residents of the nearby town of Rancho Mirage, where water and debris rushed over closed roads and left at least one pickup truck trapped in water that rose almost to the top of the bed.
“It’s amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Sean Julian, 54, a city resident. “I see a lot more trees down. There’s a big tree down, maybe I shouldn’t be here.”
Reuters staff report; Written by Daniel Tratta; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
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