Photos: Deadly storm slams California with flooding rainfall, damaging winds

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
February 05, 2019, 2:26:56 AM EST


The strongest Pacific storm of this winter season slammed California with heavy rain, significant snowfall, high winds and travel disruptions this past weekend.

A member of the Ventura County search-and-rescue team was killed and nine other people were injured in a car crash on Saturday morning amid heavy rain near Pyramid Lake.

The team was at the scene of another vehicle crash on Interstate 5 when a minivan lost control on the wet roadway and plowed into members of the team, according to the Associated Press (AP).

“This is a very unfortunate situation that could’ve been avoided,” Los Angeles County fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda said, warning motorists to slow down in the rain.

(Twitter/EliasonMike)

A Caltrans worker stands in the northbound US 101 in Montecito Saturday where the nearby Romero Creek has overflowed and flooded the Highway.

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire via AP

In this Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, photo released by Santa Barbara County Fire, heavy equipment works to clear U.S. 101 following heavy rains which produced runoff from Romero and San Ysidro Creeks in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara County, Calif.

(Twitter/EliasonMike)

A California Highway Patrol Officer walks in the northbound US 101 in Montecito Saturday where the nearby San Ysidro Creek has overflowed and flooded the Highway.

(Twitter/EliasonMike)

A large stone pine tree believed to be 100 years old came down into this Santa Barbara home during Saturday’s powerful winter storm. The resident was not injured. Firefighters have been responding to multiple trees that have come down throughout the county.

AP Photo/John Antczak

Water races down the swollen Los Angeles River near downtown Los Angeles, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, as a powerful storm drenches California.

(Twitter/EliasonMike)

San Pedro Creek flowing under Hollister Ave near Fairview Ave in Goleta during Saturday’s rain. Creeks have risen with this storm.

(Twitter/EliasonMike)

Firefighters survey the scene of a large eucalyptus tree that fell into a two-story apt. complex on Bolton Walk in Goleta Saturday morning. Multiple trees have toppled and wires have come down throughout the county as a result of this latest storm.

(Twitter/EliasonMike)

Firefighters survey the scene of a large eucalyptus tree that fell into a two-story apt. complex on Bolton Walk in Goleta Saturday morning. Multiple trees have toppled and wires have come down throughout the county as a result of this latest storm.

AP Photo/Richard Vogel

Vehicles make their way through flooded streets of Panorama City section of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.

(Twitter/NWSLosAngeles via Ventura County)

Very heavy flow over the Matilija Dam.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

An overturned vehicle is seen at a scene of a fatal accident, where a volunteer member of the Ventura County search and rescue team was killed, along Interstate Highway 5 south of Pyramid Lake, Calif. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.

(Twitter/bagbeti)

Mudflow and flooding on Brakey Road on Poli Street in Ventura, California.

(Twitter/archangelcrew)

Gusty winds blowing a palm tree in Bakersfield, California.

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire via AP

In this Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, photo released by Santa Barbara County Fire, Santa Barbara County Fire heavy equipment works to clear N. Jameson Lane, following heavy rains which produced runoff from Romero and San Ysidro Creeks in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara County, Calif.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Emergency personnel huddle around the body of volunteer member of the Ventura County search and rescue team, killed in a traffic accident, along interstate highway 5 south of Pyramid Lake, Calif. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.


On Sunday afternoon, five people died when a small plane crashed into a home shortly after taking off of Fullerton Municipal Airport, according to the AP.

The airport reported heavy rain shortly after the plane took off.

A general 1-3 inches of rain poured down across the state, with localized amounts in excess of 5 inches.

The heavy rain caused excessive runoff, with debris flows reported downstream of the Holy and Woolsey fire burn scars.

Ahead of the storm, evacuations were ordered or recommended for communities at a high risk for debris flows and mudslides due to recent wildfires.

Stretches of Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County and the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu were closed due to high water, mud and debris over the road.

Caltrans crews worked to clear the mud that was as high as 3 feet deep on some roads, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Santa Barbara City College canceled all Saturday classes due to the storm.

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Ventura County officials and the National Weather Service told residents to stay away from the Matilija Dam area due to very heavy flow. Nearly 5 inches of rain was reported in the area.

A tornado warning was in effect for portions of Butte, Colusa and Glenn counties on Saturday afternoon. While no tornadoes were confirmed, there were reports of funnel clouds.

Gusty winds accompanied the storm, knocking down trees and power lines and leaving over 33,000 customers without power.

On Catalina Island, a 67 mph wind gust was recorded early Saturday morning.

Feet of snow buried the higher terrain, with difficult travel reported over I-80’s Donner Pass.

Additional rain and mountain snow through Tuesday will threaten to delay cleanup efforts, trigger more travel disruptions and create new or worsening flooding problems.

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