Major storm, largest in 20 years, strikes southern California, bringing “astronomical rain totals” and risk of mudslides
02/07/2024 // Ethan Huff // Views

Los Angeles and other parts of southern California's most populated areas are getting slammed by record-breaking rain totals that are causing widespread flooding, mudslides and associated evacuations.

The weather event, a so-called "atmospheric river" that data indicates is the most severe in 20 years or more, was described as "potentially historic" days before it arrived. After getting into full swing, the event is proving to be worse in certain areas than anyone expected.

Some areas of LA saw 10 inches of rain in just two days, with more on the way. Ten inches, by the way, is much higher than the average amount of rain that falls in California during the entire month of February.

"And February is our wettest month," noted Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Oxnard, adding that this particular storm is "significant."

Until the storm fully passes, there will not be any concrete data to confirm whether this storm is a record-breaking event, though all signs currently seem to be pointing to it being the wettest and most disastrous weather event in southern California in many, many years.

According to Kittell, the amount of rain that had fallen as of Sunday marks the 10th-wettest calendar day since record keeping began back in 1877. By the time the storm is over, it could become the wettest day on record, period.

(Related: Last year, California farmers lost billions from a previous atmospheric river rainstorm: "We've lost everything!")

Southern California is drenched

As of this writing, there is still a couple more days to go with the storm. An expected 1.5 to three inches more rain is expected to fall across the LA basin, with higher elevations seeing as many as six more inches of rain.

"It's pretty relentless," Kittell commented. "Nothing of the intensity we saw last night, but the rains really are not letting up until, possibly, Thursday. But it should be generally light in nature."

"The one caveat is we do have a chance of thunderstorms, so if we do get a thunderstorm, we could get a brief, heavy downpour."

In LA County, the area that has thus far seen the most rain is the Santa Monica Mountains, where the Topanga fire station reported 10.67 inches. This is followed by Bel-Air at 10.46 inches; Sepulveda Pass near the Skirball Cultural Center at 10.28 inches; and Brentwood at 9.9 inches.

Los Angeles International Airport saw 3.27 inches of rain in the early part of the storm, while downtown LA saw 5.95 inches.

The mountainous areas of southern California are seeing the most rain due to the fact that hilly terrain acts as a ramp to push up air and squeeze more moisture out of the storm. This is a problem for low-lying areas near the mountains where torrential downflow is causing flooding and landslides.

In Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the Matilija Canyon near Ojai saw 8.52 inches of rain, while Santa Barbara proper saw 4.39 inches.

In Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, rainfall totals have thus far been lower at around three inches, though that will change as the worst rain for these areas is expected to fall on Monday into Tuesday. San Diego County will see most of its rain fall going into Tuesday.

"The core of the low-pressure system is very deep, and it's moving very slowly and it's very close to us," Kittell said. "And that's why we have those very strong winds. And the slow nature of it is really giving us the highest rainfall totals and the flooding risk."

Many are blaming "climate change" for these types of weather events, but is that really the cause? Find out more at

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