Atmospheric river floods mountain communities
By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
An ultra-low-pressure weather phenomenon known as an atmospheric river – often referred to as a “bomb cyclone” – off the coast of Northern California spun its way southward throughout the state, depositing four to five feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range before unleashing its fury in the form of intense rainfall in the Central Valley. There it flooded farmland before reaching the Southland last Wednesday, where the onslaught of downpours and high winds flooded coastal and urban areas, triggered mudslides and downed trees, leaving at least five persons dead in its wake.
According to the National Weather Service, last week’s storm moved through faster and produced less rain than expected, delivering 1.5 to 3 inches overall, with 3 to 6 inches in the mountains and foothills.
The intense weather system rolled into the Inland Empire late Wednesday evening and reached the San Bernardino Mountains communities overnight, where it continued its reign of destruction before moving eastward late on Thursday, but not before depositing 3 to 4 inches of snow in Running Springs, 0.28 inches of rain in Lake Arrowhead and 1.48 inches of rain in Crestline, where rivers of water flowed through many streets, including Crest Forest Drive, Highway 138 and Lake Drive.
San Bernardino County Fire Department Public Information officer Eric Sherwin told The Alpine Mountaineer that fire crews responded to three reports of downed trees or powerlines on Thursday, one of which was near the intersection of Oak and Spring Lanes in Lake Arrowhead. Meanwhile in Crestline, County Fire and Department of Public Works crews were sent to Redwood Lane in Valley of Enchantment around midnight on Thursday, where a tree had fallen across a powerline.
Another incident in Crestline occurred late Thursday when there was a report of a transformer emitting sparks in the 24000 block of Crest Forest Drive.
“These are the types of calls you would expect with rain propelled by high wind speeds. Most local residents are well prepared for these conditions and know how to react, while weekend snow-players are less educated on how to prepare for and react to changes in weather,” added Sherwin.
According to meteorologists, a more intense storm was expected to hit Southern California on Monday, bringing heavy showers to the coast and valleys. Foothill and mountain areas are expected to be hit the hardest.
Huston Creek flowed swiftly past the San Moritz Lodge on Thursday, Jan. 5. (Photo by Mary-Justine Lanyon)
This home on Fern Drive in Crestline was crushed when a tree fell on its roof last month. Last week’s downpour flattened it even more. (Photo by Douglas W. Motley)