LOS ANGELES – Californians have long joked that their state has three seasons: wildfires, earthquakes and floods.
But when a atmospheric river parked over Los Angeles this week, knocking out power and discharging record rainsa serious reckoning took place.
“The weather seems more extreme on every level,” Fred Rosen, a retired entertainment executive, said Monday, crouching in the lobby of the nearby Hotel Bel-Air as landslides threatened his neighborhood.
“But where are you going?”
The Los Angeles River on Monday. Photo Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
The relentless weather system has battered Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino since Sunday, and authorities have so far reported a few 475 runs of Earth only in Los Angeles.
Rescuers have pulled dozens of people from the raging waters and homeless people have filled shelters.
It has always rained during the winter in Los Angeles, no matter what song says otherwise.
But the succession of extreme weather events – an onslaught of storms a year ago, Tropical Storm Hilary in August and now this marathon of atmospheric rivers – has made Angelenos think that these events “historical” perhaps they will not be so much anymore in the era of climate change.
Last week, Los Angeles authorities and National Weather Service meteorologists warned residents to stay off the roads if possible and to evacuate when told to do so. Photo Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
In the Baldwin Hills neighborhood, mud oozed onto a road, trapping several cars and blocking traffic after pushing past a barrier a resident had installed in a vain attempt to push back nature.
Nearby, a mountain of earth was through the wall of a bedroom, a disturbing scene that Mayor Karen Bass herself examined.
Last winter, a similar slide had occurred during a storm, Loratious Presley said as he surveyed the neighborhood damage under a red umbrella.
That left him a valuable lesson:
Park in a new spot.
His own car was saved, but others were not so lucky.
“In the last two years there's been nothing like it,” Presley said.
Caltrans workers remove fallen trees blocking a rural road in Oxnard, California. The relentless weather system hit Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino. Photo Philip Cheung for The New York Times
West Los Angeles Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky agreed.
Some areas of his district received almost as much rain on Sunday and Monday as in a normal year.
“People say this is the new normal, but, like the rest of the world, even that has changed here,” said Yaroslavsky, whose district covers about 260,000 Angelenos.
“I don't even know what to call this. The new 'new normal'? What does 'normal' mean anymore?”
Inside the Beverly Glen Deli, nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Paul Mudra, 58, called the storm “a little worrying,” but nothing terrible for those accustomed to living under the threat of wildfires and earthquakes. .
A road washed away by a landslide in the Los Padres National Forest. Photo Philip Cheung for The New York Times
“In a way, the rains are one more natural disaster that we have to deal with,” added her husband, Thilo Huebner, 50.
Laurence Homolka, 79, a retired violin teacher who has lived in the landslide-prone Pacific Palisades neighborhood for two decades, wondered over coffee at Starbucks whether the increased attention paid to climate change had made Californians had “more of a catastrophic mentality.
When he was 4 years old, he said, it once rained for days and “no one thought anything about it.”
“Today we have a lot of terminology that we have developed.
By mid-morning Monday, meteorologists had already called the weekend storm one of the wettest to hit the state since the late 19th century. Photo Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
“We say it's catastrophic, which, I think, sometimes it is,” he said.
“We are not able to agree with what is actually happening.”
Last week, Los Angeles officials and National Weather Service meteorologists warned residents in stern language to stay off the roads if possible and to evacuate when told to do so.
Los Angeles officials marveled Tuesday that no one had died yet in the city.
As the storm moved into Southern California on Sunday, the entertainment world was waiting for the delivery of the Grammy in downtown Los Angeles, no matter how dire Bass's warnings to stay home were.
A car trapped by a landslide in Beverly Hills, Calif. Photo Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
At the Crypto.com Arena, the only indication that time was a bother was when Miley Cyruswith his hair slightly disheveled, mentioned that he had almost missed the award for best pop solo performance because traffic had gotten stuck in the rain.
Still, much of Los Angeles became a mud bath.
In the San Fernando Valley, more than 100 homeless people were evacuated from a small town of houses.
In Studio Cityon Lockridge Road, a street wedged at the base of a steep hillside, surprised residents in flip flops wandered through the water on roads covered in wet dirt and boulders.
Household belongings peeked out of the dirt: bedding, pieces of plastic, lost shoes.
In many ways, the same storm had more brutal effects in Northern California, because the intense winds hundreds of trees felledkilled six people and cut power to more than 800,000 homes.
In Southern California, which features rugged terrain as well as urban sprawl, it can be difficult to understand the effects of extreme weather. Photo Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
In Southern California, where three more deaths were confirmed late Tuesday, the vast geography can exempt entire stretches from the worst of an extreme storm.
A time that is considered dangerous and potentially deadly can be experienced differently depending on where we are.
On Monday morning, Cecily Kim Oh, 51, received urgent warnings about staying off the streets, but saw that they didn't match the smooth route to her children's school in North Hollywood that was promised on Google Maps. .
There were no major traffic jams on Highway 101, no intersections marked closed.
Oh has lived in Los Angeles for 15 years and doesn't complain about the rain.
“Even though it's cold, I'm still barefoot,” she said with a laugh, taking her foot off the pedal of her Jeep as she waited outside Walter Reed Middle School.
More than 100 kilometers south, in a canyon in Orange County, a similar feeling was experienced at the Trabuco General Store, in an area that was under a voluntary evacuation notice.
Zac Schraff, a 28-year-old employee who had grown up in the area and went to school across the street, greeted customers.
In Studio City, on Lockridge Road, a street wedged at the base of a steep hillside, surprised residents in flip-flops wandered through the water rushing along paths covered in wet dirt and boulders. Photo Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
Weather conditions had apparently worsened over the years, but he said he welcomed the storm.
“The rain can only be a positive thing for us. We are in a drought. I am more afraid of the fires,” Schraff said.
But he often thinks about the dire cycle in which rain feeds vegetation that could become fuel for future fires.
Outside the store, Eliceo Marquisa, 58, pointed to a three-foot-high water leak and scoffed:
He recalled a storm a decade ago in which the water rose much higher.
Marquisa, a Trabuco Canyon resident for 15 years, said she had gotten used to the bad weather and never planned to leave.
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The rain made rich and poor alike vulnerable to devastation.
Some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods were in the wealthy, saturated Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills.
In Bel Air, an intensely private enclave in West Los Angeles whose residents include Lady Gaga y Ronald Reaganseveral people said the storm was a rude awakening.
Late Monday afternoon, multimillion dollar homesreinforced by powerful retaining walls and surrounded by security hedges, had been drenched with a mind-boggling 11.68 inches of rain, according to the weather service.
At the Bel-Air Hotel, the Swan Lake grotto, a well-known wedding venue, was a brown water river.
“It was an absolute disaster,” said Mahin White, 78, who has lived in Bel Air for 43 years and said he was living at the hotel while his house was being remodeled.
“There were no swans inside, thank God.”
Kyle Armantrout, 51, said when the ground outside his five-bedroom home started rumbling Sunday, he thought it was an earthquake.
Then he checked his security cameras, he said, and realized the hillside in front of him had collapsed. over your front yard and his neighbor's.
Debris had further damaged his neighbor's house, shattering a fence and breaking the garage door, Armantrout said.
But there is something inexorable about the event that has left him bewildered.
“We've had almost 30 centimeters of rain in 24 hours,” he said.
“You'd think it would be torrential, but it's been so constant. Constant. That's the part that makes you think, 'What if it doesn't stop?'”
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