LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Residents of fire-scarred foothill communities near Los Angeles, some still digging out from a deluge of mud over the weekend, were told to evacuate their homes on Tuesday as another strong storm hit the region.
Authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders for 527 homes north of Los Angeles, where mudslides damaged or destroyed dozens of houses in upscale neighborhoods of La Canada-Flintridge early on Saturday morning.
The National Weather Service has forecast that Tuesday’s storm, the latest in what has so far been a very wet winter for typically sunny Southern California, could bring heavy showers and thunderstorms with up to 2 inches of rainfall.
Flash-flood warnings were issued for areas left blackened and barren of vegetation by last summer’s massive Station Fire, and evacuation centers were set up at a nearby church and community center.
There were no deaths or serious injuries from Saturday’s mudslides, but residents said they had little warning before torrents of mud, rock and debris came crashing down in the early morning hours, carrying off cars and leaving behind a path of destruction.
In all, 41 homes suffered moderate to heavy damage, with nine dwellings tagged by inspectors as uninhabitable.
Authorities have since worked furiously to clear the mud-choked streets, scoop out catch basins and erect barriers, but they warned that the hillsides remained saturated and dangerously unstable after the string of storms.
The damaging storms also have brought a measure of relief to drought-stricken California, dumping snow on mountain ranges that feed the state’s reservoirs. But water officials have so far stopped short of calling an official end to the drought.
The statewide mountain snowpack was measured at 110 percent of normal as of Monday, according to a network of automatic sensors.
Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Walsh