LOS ANGELES — A much-needed rain fell across drought-stricken California this week, but the storm had so far produced few of the problems such as flooding and mudslides that had threatened areas left barren by wildfires.
Residents and authorities, however, kept a cautious watch on saturated slopes as scattered showers fell in Southern California on Wednesday, Dec. 3, where the heaviest torrents fell a day earlier.
Inland areas east of Los Angeles were expected to see the strongest downpours. One location, Yucaipa Ridge in the San Bernardino Mountains, had received an exceptional 8.38 inches of rain by 4 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.
After opening a winter shelter program just one day before rains hit the Southland, homeless advocates have persuaded additional shelters to open ahead of schedule and operate 24 hours a day during the storm.
Two of four programs originally set to open Dec. 15 have opened in Sun Valley and South Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Twelve other locations with roughly 1,500 beds countywide were already opened, and will remain open through March 15.
Despite the storm’s scale, experts said it would take many more similar storms to pull the state out of three years of drought.
Nonetheless, the rain awakened signature waterfalls at Yosemite National Park, including 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls — which had dried to a trickle by mid-July — and 620-foot Bridalveil Fall.
“With the precipitation, they are looking good. They are flowing nicely,” park spokeswoman Ashley Mayer told The Associated Press after a morning drive through Yosemite Valley.
Flash flood watches were extended for wildfire burn areas, where the soaking brought worries of debris flows and flooding that did not immediately materialize.
In Camarillo Springs, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, gushing water and muddy debris poured from hillsides on Tuesday, Dec. 2, forcing the evacuation of about 75 homes for much of the day. The order was lifted around 6 p.m., but authorities urged people to stay away voluntarily. No major damage was reported.
In Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles, about 60 homes in rural Silverado Canyon were under a voluntary evacuation notice. The area burned over the summer and has been the site of previous mudslides.
In Tuesday’s downpours, downtown Los Angeles received 1.15 inches of rain, breaking a 1961 record for the day, according to the weather service.
Nearly 1½ inches fell on San Francisco, where historic cable cars and their 100-year-old braking systems had to be shut down. The rain, expected to last through today, Dec. 4, has brought most of the San Francisco Bay Area within or beyond normal rainfall totals to date for the first time in years.
Traffic was snarled and flights were delayed in cities around the state.
Just before the storm arrived, the Sierra Nevada snowpack — which counts for most of the state’s water supply — was at just 24 percent of normal for this time of year. But snow was rapidly building rapidly with reports of 10 inches of snowfall at elevations of 8,000 feet.
Meantime, another potential problem awaited Southern California coastal residents: a thick tangle of trash that gets washed from city streets into storm drains and then onto beaches after major storms.
A full list of available shelters can be found at www.lahsa.org.
City News Service contributed to this report.