Flames, Mudslides and Snow Arrived with Rainstorm

  • Power lines and a tree came down and burst into flames on Azalea Drive in a Pine Mountain neighborhood during the storm. [photo by Paul Alleeson]

    Power lines and a tree came down and burst into flames on Azalea Drive in a Pine Mountain neighborhood during the storm. [photo by Paul Alleeson]

By Patric Hedlund

Last week’s roller coaster weather changed from temperatures in the high 60s to a series of low pressure fronts Wednesday and Thursday that pushed rain clouds through the parched mountains. That, followed by a  stronger storm on Friday and Saturday brought 3.9 inches of heavy rains to Frazier Park and 4.77 inches to Pine Mountain, with a foot of snow at the top of Woodland Drive. Mud and rock slides on mountain roads followed, as hillsides rapidly eroded.

Week’s Rainfall
Frazier Park 3.9”
Pine Mountain 4.77”

Highway 33 was closed on Friday, Feb. 28 at 12:37 p.m. from Ojai to Lockwood Valley Road, due to mud and rock slides during the rain. A group of 15 hikers near Sespe Creek had to be airlifted out of the area. On Saturday, March 1 Caltrans geologists decided to leave a section of road between Wheeler Gorge and Lockwood Valley Road closed.

Over in the Western Antelope Valley area, the Power House fire burn region (off Lake Hughes Road south of Three Points) saw major mud-slides that engulfed several vehicles. Neenach resident and photographer Jeff Zimmerman  reported that Search and Rescue worked with Los Angeles County firefighters to check the safety of motorists and to dig vehicles free from mud flows.

Road conditions in Lebec and Frazier Park stayed fairly clear through the storms.

The Grapevine stayed open.

In Pine Mountain two power poles came down, with trees.Residents reported both caused power outages of several hours. On Azalea, arcing sparks from a downed line caused a tree to burst into flames. Firefighters from Kern County Station 58 extinguished the blaze. The road was closed down until power lines were cleared.

For the ‘rain year’ so far (July through June), Frazier Park has received 5.01 inches of rain, Linda Curtis’ weather station reports. Readings in Pine Mountain show 6.66 inches. Over 35 years, the historical annual average rainfall is 16.49 inches, Jerry Ferris’ PMCWeather.org reports.

Photo captions:

Mudslides engulfed vehicles near Three Points on Lake Hughes Rd.

KCFD firefighters were on a prescribed burn in the snow off Freeman and Bernina, Saturday in the Pine Mountain community.

Mrs. Schwantes’ 4th-5th graders at Peak to Peak Mountain Charter learn about the science of erosion from snow melt after last week’s storm.

Mudslides flowed in the Lake Hughes Road area.

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This is part of the March 7, 2014 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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