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Hillsides hold, but officials brace for more rain

Eight inches of rain fall over the weekend, but Tuesday promises further storms.

December 20, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

GLENDALE — The hillsides above the areas burned in the Station Fire survived the weekend's latest downpour, but forecasters say a more powerful rain is still to come Tuesday.

The relentless storm dumped more than eight inches of rain in most mountain and foothills, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch for the region and warned residents about the possibility for debris flows.

Still, the rain-soaked hillsides held up during the weekend, and no major damage or debris flows were reported, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Mountain runoff that went into the debris basins was clear and contained a small amount of material, said Bob Spencer, spokesman of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

Minor rockslides were reported on mountain roads, but he said Public Works had shut down all county roads about 2 a.m. Sunday in the Station fire burn area.

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County crews responded at least once to 5300 block of Pineridge Drive after a drain pipe backed up and caused significant street flooding, said Lt. Robert Blume of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station. But crews quickly pumped away the water, which he said often clogs up during storms.

Rain is expected to continue Monday, but city and police officials are bracing themselves for Tuesday's storm, which is expected to pack a stronger punch. That front could bring an additional three to six inches of rain to the already-drenched mountains and foothills, according to the weather agency.

Rain totals through Wednesday could accumulate to some of the highest amount in the past few years, according to the National Weather Service.

Another storm may also hit land for the Christmas weekend, according to the weather agency.

The strongest showers occurred over the recent burn areas with rain rates at one-half-inch per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Sheriff's deputies patrolled the foothills during the rain and monitored the debris basins, which Sgt. Gary Ogurek said functioned properly.

"The foothills are absorbing the rain because it's the first real storm since this summer," he said.

City officials on Friday began preparing for the series of storms and the possibility of evacuations if weather conditions worsened during the weekend, Lorenz said. They posted a weather advisory that included critical phone numbers and tips on the city's website.

"Our goal is to put everybody at ease," he said.

They also pre-recorded telephone messages that would have been sent out to residents who were required to evacuate, he said.

City officials ensured the Glendale Civic Auditorium was available and ready to go if evacuations were ordered during the weekend.

While the foothills were spared during the storm, the highways were significantly impacted by the rain.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 355 traffic collisions were reported from 5 to 9 a.m. Sunday, which was a dramatic increase from 42 collisions for the same period on Dec. 12, a non-rain day.

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