USA – Multiple Rescues After Floods Cause Chaos in Southern California

Emergency crews carried out multiple high water rescues, including some by helicopter, after was winter storm dumped heavy rain in parts of Southern California.

Winter storm in southern California, 24 February 2023. Image: NWS LA

Storms winds also caused damage, downing trees and power lines. At one point 30,000 customers in the city of Los Angeles were without power. Heavy snow fell in higher elevations, where several roads were closed.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Los Angeles reported record rainfall in several locations. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) recorded 2.04 inches / 51.82 mm of rain on 24 February, beating the previous high for that date ( 0.75 inches / 19.05 mm ) set in 2008. Meanwhile, Hollywood Burbank / Bob Hope Airport recorded 4.61 inches / 117.09 mm, beating the previous high for that date (3.07 inches / 77.98 mm) set in 1998.

NWS Los Angeles also reported rising rivers, including the Ventura River, which jumped to 19.26 feet / 5.87 metres at the Foster Park station late on 24 February. The moderate flood stage here is 19.1 feet.

A River Flood Warning was issued for the Santa Ynez River, where levels are expected to crest above 18 feet / 5.48 metres, where the minor flood stage is 15 feet.

Ventura River at Foster Park California, USA February 2023. Image: NWS
Santa Ynez River at Narrows California USA February 2023. Image: NWS

Severe flooding was reported on several roads, including parts of Interstate 5 near Sun Valley in Los Angeles. Emergency teams were called on to rescue drivers stuck in flood waters in areas of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties.

The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) used a helicopter to rescue 4 people and 5 pets who were stranded in a remote area of land within the heavily flooded Sepulveda Flood Control Basin near Van Nuys.

“An LAFD Helicopter landed to safely rescue the four adults and 5 pet animals, transferring them all directly to the LAFD Air Operations facility at Van Nuys Airport, where they were medically evaluated by LAFD Paramedics. Two of the adults (no further details) were determined to be suffering from hypothermia and were transported to an area hospital. The two remaining adults declined offered ambulance transportation and took possession of the five animals, which appeared uninjured,” LAFD said.

Crews were also called on to rescue a driver trapped inside a vehicle in Hollywood Hills after high-voltage wires fell onto the roadway and on top of the driver’s car.

Southern California Winter Storm 24 February 2023. Image: NWS LA

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