Easter Sunday rain, snow on tap as spring storm moves through Southern California

TORRANCE-CA-MARCH 30, 2024: Brian Butts and his children Carl and Abigale walk past a mudslide from a previous storm on Vista Largo in Torrance on March 30, 2024. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Brian Butts and his children Carl and Abigale walk past a mudslide from a previous storm on Vista Largo in Torrance on Saturday. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

After a late-season storm brought flooding to Los Angeles freeways and a tornado warning in Santa Barbara County, a wet Easter Sunday is in the forecast for Southern California.

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, up to 2 ½ inches of rain had fallen over the Southland’s coastal and valley areas, said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Parts of the L.A. County mountains received up to 3 inches.

There were reports of street flooding, but no known instances of mudslides or major flooding, Sirard said. The storm, which has led to the cancellation or postponement of some Easter events, could deliver up to 3 inches of rain in Los Angeles.

“We could get some more significant rain over the next 24 hours,” Sirard said. “It won’t be raining all the time, but when it does rain, it could be raining fairly hard.”

The California Highway Patrol said there were reports of roadway flooding early Saturday on the westbound 210 Freeway at the Lake Avenue onramp, and on the southbound 110 Freeway's transition to the westbound 105.

Marc Bischoff, a spokesperson for the California Department of Transportation, said the agency's maintenance crews were patrolling the region around the clock with portable pumps in tow in case of additional flooding. "Some areas of flooding are mitigated and reopened as they occur," he said.

Read more: Easter weekend storm to hit L.A.: When will it rain? What events are canceled?

The rains also caused problems for the region's unhoused population.

The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District rescued two people from a drainage tunnel in Bloomington after passersby overheard their cries for help around 8:15 a.m., ABC-TV Channel 7 reported.

Rescue crews piloted a boat to the tunnel, where rushing stormwater had trapped the two, who are experiencing homelessness and had sheltered there. They were evaluated at the scene and declined to go to the hospital for further monitoring.

During the storm, the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, a joint city and county agency, is offering additional motel vouchers to those experiencing homelessness. Shelter sites that were previously scheduled to close Sunday will remain open through Tuesday. Those in L.A. County needing a shelter should call 2-1-1 for help.

Among the Easter weekend events canceled ahead of the storm were outdoor gatherings planned in Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Pasadena and Arcadia, where an Easter egg hunt at Santa Anita Park is typically the largest in the San Gabriel Valley. The racing venue's festivities have been rescheduled for April 7.

At Mountain High Resort near Wrightwood in San Bernardino County, heavy snow fell Saturday morning — about 6 inches by 6 a.m. — with as much as an additional foot expected through the end of the storm.

"It's been dumping the last few hours," said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

In Santa Barbara County, the system brought a tornado warning early Saturday morning. National Weather Service meteorologist Dylan Flynn said the warning was issued for the southeastern portion of the county at 1:28 a.m. and was in effect for about 45 minutes. There were no reports of a tornado sighting or any damage.

Though rare, the tornado warning was the second in two months for Santa Barbara County. In late February, the National Weather Service said that a powerful storm off the Central Coast might generate small tornadoes in the western part of the county.

The weekend storm has also brought heavier snow to the Sierra Nevada. Most notably, the summit at Mammoth Mountain had received 2 feet of snow in 24 hours, with an additional 4 to 6 inches in the forecast. The storm has "overperformed" in Mammoth, said National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Johnston.

Some ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area have gotten as much as 14 inches of snow over the last day, among them Northstar California Resort in North Lake Tahoe, said Johnston, adding that the bulk of the storm had already passed through the area.

Skiers and snowboarders hoping to take advantage of the fresh powder should "plan accordingly," Sirard said. "Check road reports and all that stuff before you go up into the mountains."

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health says beachgoers should avoid any contact with water at county beaches at least through 8 a.m. Wednesday, especially near storm drains and discharging rivers and creeks. Bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants are significantly higher in the days after a storm as runoff flows into the sea, the department said in a release.

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.