A strong storm welcomed the first day of spring with heavy rain and powerful winds that made life miserable for Los Angeles Marathon runners, while slick roads, mudslides and flooding turned the roadways into obstacle courses for drivers.
Forecasters said they had a busy day tracking the storm as it moved into Los Angeles County.
"We have issued severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings, winter storm warnings, high wind warnings, a storm warning, a flash flood watch, a severe weather watch, a gale watch, a winter weather advisory, a flood advisory, a high surf advisory and a small craft advisory," Bill Hoffer, a spokesman with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, CA, said Sunday evening. "That's the kind of day it's been."
The wind advisory, which warned of wind gusts of up to 50 mph, will remain in effect until midnight and a high surf advisory will last until 9 a.m. Monday, Hoffer said.
The forecast for tonight called for heavy rain with a slight chance of thunderstorms, winds and lows in the mid-40s to low-50s. There's a chance of showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms Monday morning, but the storm system will be tapering off into the afternoon, Hoffer said.
The storm brought heavy rain at times with the following totals for the 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. Sunday (in inches):
Los Angeles County Metro area 1.31
Los Angeles International Airport 1.49
Culver City 1.42
Getty Center in Brentwood 1.86
Beverly Hills 2.97
Woodland Hills 2.45
Agoura Hills 2.91
The storm is part of a low pressure system that originated in the Gulf of Alaska about six days ago and has been working its way down the coast, Hoffer said.
"As it came down, it's vortex was just off the coast, but its gradients extended several hundred miles west and tapped into a moist, easterly flow from the Pacific and that's when all hell broke loose," Hoffer said.
A rainstorm is normal for this time of year, but this one has been exceptional (as you can tell by the number of advisories that were issued), because of the storm system's ability to pull in the moist airflow from the Pacific Ocean, Hoffer said.
The storm made the challenge of completing a marathon even more difficult for those who braved the elements to run Sunday's 26th Los Angeles Marathon. At least a dozen runners were taken to local hospitals for treatment of hypothermia, officials told Santa Monica Patch.
There also were scattered reports of outages with hundreds reporting losing power in Santa Monica, Santa Monica Patch reported. A spokeswoman for Southern California Edison said Sunday night that 56,000 people were without power in their territory. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power reported Sunday night that 41,000 of its 1.4 million power customers were without electricity due to the storm, including 1,300 in Del Rey and 1,100 in Venice.
There were no reports of damage or problems in the Marina del Rey area, police and fire officials said. The storm's strength, however, could be seen at flooded intersections and by the number of palm tree fronds that littered Venice and surrounding areas.
The California Highway Patrol reported an increasing number of floods, accidents and lane closures as the storm made its presence felt on the roadways.
The westbound lanes of Pacific Coast Highway were closed Sunday evening at Topanga Canyon Boulevard due to numerous rockslides, officials said. The CHP on its traffic incident Web site reported flooded roads in Newhall, on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, on Interstate 405 near the Skirball Cultural Center and at the Burbank Boulevard exit of Interstate 405.
From 4:30 p.m. to 7:26 p.m. there was a traffic hazard, a traffic collision or a lane closure reported every few minutes on the CHP's Web site.
Patch editors Jonathan Friedman and Kurt Orzeck contributed to this report.