Rainfall creates tricky road conditions in L.A. County

The first in a trio of storms hitting Southern California created tricky conditions for motorists early Thursday, with a big rig collision on one freeway and a rock slide in another area.

The big rig collision shut down truck lanes on the southbound 5 Freeway, north of Balboa Boulevard, and the southbound Highway 14 truck lanes to the southbound 5. The lanes were closed for about three hours, according to the California Highway Patrol.  

A call also came in at 4:35 a.m. about a rock slide at Las Virgenes and Malibu Canyon roads, said CHP Officer Alex Rubio. A road crew was working on clearing it when CHP arrived. 

As far as driving in the rain: “The best advice would just be to slow down, reduce your speed,” Rubio said. 

The downpour early Thursday was part of the first in a trio of storms. The rain was expected to slow later in the morning. 

“It’s going to continue for a little while, then it’ll taper down,” said Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “By 7 o’clock, we should be seeing scattered showers … the main energy is moving through us.”

The heaviest rain was over the eastern part of the county, over Long Beach and up to the San Gabriel Valley, Kaplan said. 

On Thursday morning, the Malibu area received more than 1 1/2 inches of rain, downtown had more than half an inch and the Hollywood Reservoir had almost three-quarters of an inch, Kaplan said.

A second storm is forecast for Thursday night and could drop an additional 2 inches of rain — with up to 3 inches in the San Gabriel Valley foothills — by Saturday, according to Stuart Seto, of the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The third storm, predicted to be the strongest, is expected on Sunday. Fueled by warmer, moist air, the storm could dump up to 3 inches of rain in the valleys and foothills, and up to 5 inches of rain in the mountains. 

“That could be the biggest one, as far as the rainmakers,” Kaplan said.

Because of the rainfall, health officials cautioned those visiting beaches to be careful of swimming, surfing and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks and rivers. 

Bacteria, debris, trash and other public health hazards from city streets and mountain areas are likely to enter ocean water through those outlets, according to a Los Angeles County Department of Public Health statement. 

Because “discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers only comprise a small portion of the beach” the statement read, those who want to go to the beach can still do so.

“Swimmers and surfers are advised to stay away from discharge sites. There is the possibility bacterium or chemicals from debris and trash could contaminate the water near and around discharge sites, and individuals who enter the water in these areas could become ill,” the statement read.

The health advisory is in effect until at least 7 a.m. Sunday. It could be extended depending on further rainfall, officials said.

Staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

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