Southern California storms: Extreme weather conditions hit Los Angeles, San Diego

Story highlights

Millions under flood warnings with more rain on the way

Flash flooding threat expands to parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah

Neighborhoods slammed by flooding and mudslides

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared an emergency Monday


A powerful storm system has drenched parts of California, leaving at least three people dead, knocking out power and prompting dangerous mudslides and rivers of debris stretching across neighborhoods. The rain – and in some areas, the heavy snow – isn’t over just yet. Here’s what’s happening:

More rain and snow: Showers and occasional bouts of steady rain will continue across Southern California Tuesday. An additional inch of rain is possible for valley areas with 1 to 3 inches in the foothills. Since Sunday, some areas in Los Angeles County have seen nearly 1 foot of rain. Rain and potential flash flooding will expand Tuesday into western Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah as the storm slowly moves east. A Level 2 of 4 risk of excessive rainfall is in effect Tuesday for these areas, according to the Weather Prediction Center.

• More than 300 mudslides in Los Angeles: Authorities in Los Angeles reported at least 307 mudslides during the storm. While the worst of the downpours are over, the continuing rain Tuesday means more floods and mudslides are still possible and roads remain littered with trees and debris. Officials in Southern California have urged anyone who ventures outside to do so with extreme caution.

• Snow makes travel next to impossible: The storm system also dumped heavy snow, burying parts of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California’s mountain ranges. The snow and strong winds will continue to make for “near impossible” travel conditions at high elevations in the southern parts of the Sierra Nevada and into the central Nevada mountains, the weather service said. The heavy snow will spread further inland this week, reaching higher elevations in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, the service said.

At least three people killed: At least three people died on Sunday in California after being struck by falling trees during the powerful storm. Strong wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph were recorded where all three deaths occurred.

Thousands still without power: More than 150,000 customers across California were without power early Tuesday morning, according to, particularly in the northern parts of the state, where violent winds knocked down trees and power lines over the weekend.

David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images

This aerial view Monday shows a home destroyed at the bottom of a landslide in Los Angeles.

More than 300 mudslides and two dozen buildings damaged in Los Angeles

Across Southern California Monday, neighborhood streets turned into muddy, gushing rivers that swallowed cars, washed away debris and left people and animals stranded.

Scott Toro, a resident of Studio City in Los Angeles, told CNN a violent mudslide in his neighborhood scattered neighbors’ cars and left their street completely impassable, littered with large boulders and tree branches. Two of his neighbors’ homes sustained damage, Toro told CNN.

“Everybody seems to be OK, I mean, I think we’re all just mentally shaken, but we’re physically, we’re all okay,” he told CNN, later adding: “We’ve been here 21 years and we’ve never seen anything (like this).”

In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass declared an emergency Monday after the storm dropped nearly 1 foot of water in some areas, triggering mudslides, evacuations and rescues.

At least 307 mudslides and debris flows were reported in the city, according to a Los Angeles Fire news release. Officials were also investigating whether 35 structures that were damaged in the storm are safe. At least five have been “red tagged,” meaning they are not allowing re-entry. Seven were tagged as “yellow,” meaning occupants could go in to collect belongings.

Crews are working to clear and repair roads that were impacted.

“As the storm continues, there are many water-soaked hillsides that have the potential to slide,” the Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin Crowley said in a Monday news briefing. “We would like to reiterate to use extreme caution if you live or travel in these areas.”

Two evacuation orders remained in place Tuesday – one at the Owen Fire burn scar in Topanga Canyon and one at the Agua Fire burn scar near Acton.

Though the damage officials saw was not as significant as what they had prepared for, the storm was like “a thousand cuts,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Lindsey Horvath said.

“Sinkholes, downed trees (and) areas of erosion,” she said. “But we are doing well and our crews remain out.”

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Water rages Monday along the Los Angeles River as the second and more powerful of two atmospheric river storms inundates the city.

December through March are the wettest months of the year for Southern California, but the scale of this week’s deluge was highly unusual.

Record-breaking rain was recorded across Southern California on Sunday and Monday. Some of the most jaw-dropping totals unfolded across the greater Los Angeles area.

Downtown Los Angeles had its third-wettest two-day stretch on record Sunday through Monday, receiving 7.03 inches of rain, or 49% of its average yearly rainfall. New daily record rainfall amounts were set on both days when 4.10 inches and 2.93 inches fell, respectively.

Downtown Los Angeles has picked up 10.77 inches of rain since January 1 – 75% of the city’s yearly rainfall in just five weeks.

A few areas of Los Angeles outside of downtown picked up even more rain. Two-day rainfall totals in the city’s Bel Air neighborhood fell just shy of a foot.

Los Angeles was not the only city that saw record-breaking rainfall this week. Nearby Long Beach smashed its daily record rainfall amounts both Sunday and Monday while Santa Barbara eclipsed its daily record Sunday.

CNN’s Taylor Ward, Taylor Romine, Robert Shackelford, and Stephanie Elam contributed to this report.

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