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UPDATE: Mud flows shut down canyon roads as storm blasts SCV

Posted: February 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 28, 2014 9:04 p.m.

An electronic sign posted on Bouquet Canyon and Vasquez Canyon roads in Santa Clarita on Thursday warns motorists that Bouquet Canyon Road will be closed beginning this morning at 1 a.m. due to the storm. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

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Two homes were evacuated in the Powerhouse Fire burn area and mountain roads were shut down around the Santa Clarita Valley as a major storm blasted into Southern California on Friday.

Following on the heels of another, lesser rainfall, the storm dropped more than an inch in Saugus and more than two inches in the Newhall Pass by late Friday afternoon, doubling the Santa Clarita Valley’s seasonal rainfall totals prior to this week.

Bouquet Canyon Road was closed at 1 a.m. Friday in anticipation of flooding, and Palmdale sheriff’s deputies shut down Lake Hughes Road between Elizabeth Lake Road and Camp Mendenhall later in the morning due to mud slides, said Palmdale Deputy Dale Lovvik.

Deputies evacuated residents of two homes in the Powerhouse burn area due to danger from slides, Lovvik said.
Another stretch of Lake Hughes Road, this one near Castaic Lake, was closed Friday due to at least one mudslide. That closure was in effect from Dry Gulch Road to Elizabeth Lake Road, according to the department’s website.

One of four Caterpillar “wheel loaders” that was being used to clear the mud slide became stuck in that mud.
No estimated times of reopening were offered for either Bouquet Canyon Road or Lake Hughes Road.

Other roads closed as a result of the weather include Elizabeth Lake Road from Lake Hughes Road to Munz Ranch Road, Little Tujunga Canyon Road from mile marker 8.51 to Placerita Canyon Road and Avenue M from Quartz Hill Road to 47th Street West, according to the county Department of Public Works.

One Bouquet Canyon resident called The Signal newsroom Friday to complain about the closure of that road, saying he wasn’t informed it would be shut down. Big lighted signs were placed at the canyon mouth Thursday telling residents the road would be closed.

“They got the road closed and we can’t leave,” said the man, who declined to give his name but said he lived in one of the canyon cabins.

A National Weather Service specialist Tuesday urged Bouquet Canyon residents to evacuate the area, but no forced evacuation was reported.

Elsewhere in the Santa Clarita Valley, there was some concern about San Francisquito Canyon, where several wildfires burned during the summer and fall, and the storm presented problems for some Placerita Canyon residents. The Old Placerita area in Newhall between Sierra Highway and Railroad Avenue is typically hard hit during heavy rainfall.

The creek bed that runs through portions of the neighborhood was flowing calmly late Friday morning, but is known to overflow its banks during a heavy storm and prevent those who must drive through it from getting out of their homes.

“When rain like this is scheduled, we all beat it to the local grocery store,” longtime Placerita Canyon resident Val Thomas said of her fellow residents. “You know it’s coming, and if you leave all your vehicles back here (at home), well, shame on you.”

Back in the “drought-buster” winter of 1977-78, Thomas recalled, when heavy rain fell much of the season, the Thomases were down their last bale of hay for their animals when vehicles finally made it through the creek.
“The first truck to get through was from Fox Feed,” she laughed.

Commuters who had to leave the Santa Clarita Valley for work Friday found rough going.

Traffic collisions on both Interstate 5 and Highway 14, along with a Sigalert on I-5, hampered commuters. Traffic reports throughout Southern California was peppered with collisions accounts and water on freeways, as was the case on I-5 at Magic Mountain Parkway.

The rain, along with strong, gusty winds that howled intermittently Friday, downed trees around the valley, including a sizable tree near The Master’s College and another at Newhall Park.

Santa Clarita city crews responded to a series of tree-damage calls Friday, according to city spokeswoman Gail Morgan.

Two trees were knocked over by a car collision at Orchard Village Road and Dalbey Drive, Morgan said, and crews picked up trees and tree limbs in various parts of the city — as well as providing last-minute maintenance on some to try to save them.

Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist for the National Weather Service, said the storm will last through Saturday, with the heaviest period of rainfall likely occurring between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Bartling said the storm will likely taper off late Saturday or early Sunday, but could still bring around an inch more of rain to the Santa Clarita Valley on Saturday.




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