Rains claim lives of three local residents

Daily Sundial

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The recent Los Angeles rainstorms, which have claimed three lives, generated mudslides and wreaked havoc, will most likely die down Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Weather Specialist Bruce Rockwell of the Los Angeles/Oxnard National Weather Service.

The rainstorms, which began Feb. 18, have already caused three deaths in Los Angeles.

They also caused a mudslide that buried at least three people in 10-foot-high mud at a condominium in Hacienda Heights, according to Capt. Mark Savage of the Los Angles County Fire Department.

As of yesterday afternoon, two individuals who were trapped in the mudslide were freed, including one who was extricated with minor injuries, Savage said.

“The damage of the storm is widespread, (but) in the sense of loss of lives, it’s minimal,” said Brian Humphrey, spokesperson for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. “Many tragedies have been averted.”

Humphrey said fire officials have responded to hundreds of incidents in the San Fernando Valley.

Most of the complaints were related to trees falling on or near houses, he said.

“(The San Fernando Valley) has been impacted, but not as heavily as the Foothill area,” Humphrey said.

The average amount of rainfall during this time of year is 9.89 inches.

But according to Rockwell, the amount of rainfall for Downtown Los Angeles was about 31.4 inches as of Monday afternoon.

That amount is the fifth highest recorded rainfall in Los Angeles history, Rockwell said.

“This storm is so slow that I think it will rain for the next day or two,” said Rockwell. “We could see it ending up in second place.”

However, Rockwell said this is only a possibility.

Professor Ann Dittme, who has been teaching physical geography and weather for six years, said it is possible another storm may move in later this month or next month.

She said the record 38 inches of rain for Downtown Los Angeles can easily be surpassed if it rains within the next two months.

“February is the rainiest month of the year, but we’ve always had, in years that were really, really dry, the ‘miracle March,’ where it could rain substantially a lot.”

Dittme also said the record rainfall was abnormal.

“It’s way more than normal,” Dittme said. “The pattern at which it’s been following has been unusual. Certainly, the timing at which we’ve been getting our storms is within the normal time frame. What’s very unusual about what we’ve been having is this huge amount of rainfall that we’ve gotten in Downtown L.A. And this is really broad, but basically (we’ve had) three major storms: one in October, the one in December and January, and the one now.”

She also said this is not part of the El Ni?o weather pattern.

Northridge has thus far received about 8 inches of rain throughout the current storm, Rockwell said.

CSUN’s largest amount of rainfall was recorded in 1982-83, when 37.71 inches of rain fell, according to CSUN’s Record of Climatological Observations.

The recent rain has inconvenienced some students.

“It’s horrible,” said Dewayne Johnson, junior business management major.

“It’s been making me late to school.”

Johnson also said he cannot wear the nice clothes he wants to because of the rain.

Rockwell said Los Angeles is vulnerable to rainstorms.

“We just happen to have a favorable location down here where jet streams keep pumping the rain (into) our area,” Rockwell said. “It’s basically the movement of the lows.”