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Rain expected to intensify

The area's debris basins, excavated by country crews, so far are holding back runoff.

December 21, 2010|By Jason Wells and Melanie Hicken, jason.wells@latimes.com
(Tim Berger )

A powerful weather system could continue walloping already soaked hillsides Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday as a cold front moves in behind a warmer system, bringing with it the potential for intense downpours, forecasters said.

Los Angeles County officials were scheduled to assess the possibility of evacuations in a meeting Tuesday morning, but foothill-area debris basins had so far been able to accommodate runoff from the rainfall. The greatest threat on Monday was from falling tree branches that broke several vehicle and apartment windows, officials said.

Crews had to sandbag the back entrance to a home in Chevy Chase Canyon after a section of steep backyard shifted.

As rainfall totals continued to mount, officials said they were monitoring the weather predictions, basin levels and the stability of a dome of excavated material that was built this summer.

"The sediment placement site is doing well, however it's very, very wet, and we're starting to move toward that saturation point," Glendale Public Works Director Steve Zurn.

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Still, the basins and drainage systems had so far worked well, benefiting from county crews who worked for months to clear out and excavate material for greater capacity, officials said.

"As things progress and if things go beyond what is predicted, we are ready to go ahead and implement the plan we have in place," said Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz. "But at this particular point, we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to get through this week."

Residents were strongly urged to park their vehicles off the street, especially in steep streets where moving debris could to do damage, he added.

Additional rainfall totals through Wednesday could range from 2 to 5 inches in valley areas and up to 10 inches in the foothills and mountains. As the cold front moves in and mixes with the warmer tropical weather system, the potential for heavy rainfall was expected to increase through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

"We can only go by how it's acting, but things can always change," said Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist for the agency. "We're definitely on alert for the Station fire burn area."

Regular updates on road closures and evacuation orders were to be posted on the county's public works website, http://dpw.lacounty.gov/care/.

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