Rainfall sets record in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- A torrential storm swept through Southern California, flooding homes and highways, derailing a train on an overpass above a freeway, setting off rock slides, clogging mountain roads with snow and spinning off waterspouts and destructive cyclonic winds.

Rain pounded the Los Angeles area all day, with more than 4 inches reported in some cities by late yesterday. At the Los Angeles Civic Center, 1.26 inches had fallen by midafternoon, eclipsing the old record for the date of 0.90 of an inch, set in 1918.


Several freeways shut down at various times after accidents and flooding in low-lying areas.

The tangle worsened late in the day when a washout derailed a train on an overpass above the Harbor Freeway near Gardena, about 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, leaving four rail cars dangling over freeway lanes and halting traffic in both directions. Police said the freeway closure could last until some time today.


Although most of the storm-related traffic accidents were relatively minor, a man died when his truck skidded off a highway and a woman was killed when she swerved to avoid a rock slide and crashed head-on into a truck.

A tornado was reported in Anaheim, the home of Disneyland, and mobile homes in nearby Westminster were ripped from their foundations by cyclonic winds. A waterspout was spotted off the coast near San Diego.

Rising floodwaters seeped into celebrity homes in the Malibu area and forced the closure of roads behind Sepulveda Dam in the San Fernando Valley. Heavy surf generated by the storm pounded beaches from Point Conception south to the Mexican border, with occasional 10-foot waves reported.

The steady rains forced Disneyland to close for the first time since a storm shut it down in 1987.

Snowfall of up to 14 inches was reported throughout the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, and chains or snow tires were required on most roads above 4,000 feet.