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Winter Rolls into Town Again

Posted: January 24, 2008 5:14 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2008 2:02 a.m.
Another winter storm rolled into the Santa Clarita Valley on Wednesday, dumping more rain and snow on the area, and once again increasing the risk of landslides in fire-ravaged areas.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for mountain and burn areas of Los Angeles County until late Wednesday evening, and a winter storm warning until early this morning.
The storm, which developed during the late morning but didn't start producing significant amounts of rain until late afternoon, was predicted to dump about 1.5 inches before dissolving into scattered showers overnight.
By 4 p.m. Wednesday, Newhall had received .59 inches, according to the Weather Service's Web site. Snow was already falling as low as 4,000 feet, though it was not yet sticking to the ground. Several inches were expected to fall in the mountains overnight.
In the Tejon Pass, the snow started around 7 a.m., according to Salina Sanchez of the Fort Tejon California Highway Patrol station. She said that officers had been escorting drivers up and down Interstate 5 for most of the day. However, despite the treacherous road conditions, no major collisions were reported in the Grapevine area.
Around 5:45 p.m. the CHP's Newhall area station was forced to close I-5 at Parker Road in Castaic when snow conditions farther up the highway became too hazardous for driving.
"If snow gets really thick or if the roadway freezes, we shut things down," said Officer John Lutz. He added that northbound drivers would either be routed onto Highway 126 toward Highway 101, or back onto Highway 14 toward Highway 58.
During the evening rush hour, the slick roads caused dozens of traffic collisions on highways and surface streets, causing one fatality and sending several other people to local hospitals.
Storm-preparedness teams were being deployed around the area in the event of floods or debris flow, though it was doubtful their services would be required, according to Jason Hurd, spokesman for the L.A. County Fire Department's north region operations bureau.
"If we continue to see the rain come down in moderate amounts, not heavy but constant, I think we're in good shape," Hurd said. "In the last rain, conditions were like that, and everything held up well."
Hurd said that three ground swiftwater teams, one helicopter swiftwater team, several hand crews, a skip loader, and other heavy equipment were placed on standby at local fire camps, in case any debris needs to be moved around.
The rain is expected to pick up again on Saturday evening and continue through early Sunday morning, with another two to four inches predicted. Temperatures will be in the low 40s at night and in the mid 50s during the day.


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