Big storm starts off rainy season in Malibu


More than an inch of rain was dumped on Malibu when the first major storm of the season rolled through Southern California. The rain began late on Sunday and continued strong at times until Tuesday morning, surprising residents with flooding and hail early in the season.

Residents of West Malibu reported losing power in their homes for at least an hour during the heaviest weather on Monday.

“There was a loud thunder clap and hail the size of golf balls tore down on my house for about 10 minutes,” said Kanan Road resident Keith Maryanovich about the afternoon weather on Monday. “Then there was monsoon-type rains for about two and a half hours. I felt at the whim of mother nature.”

Resident and reporter for The Malibu Times Hans Laetz recorded the flooding with his camera and rain gauge near Zuma Beach. “One point six inches of rain fell in about two hours during a heavy downpour,” he said.

However, the rain gauge that lifeguards monitor on Zuma Beach had a reading of 1.31 inches.

California Highway Patrol Officer Leland Tang said the storm had not, so far, caused any major accidents on roads in the area.

“I’m happy to say we haven’t had any major accidents or even injury accidents since the beginning of the storm,” he said early on Tuesday, but added, “The day is still young.”

There were minor accidents reported including one early Tuesday morning on Pacific Coast Highway near the Chart House restaurant where a Federal Express van and a passenger car were involved. Traffic going both ways on the highway was delayed.

Firefighter Bob Haskell of Fire Station 70 reported that a motorcycle slid out of control near Coastline Drive and Pacific Coast Highway early Monday morning but the rider was not seriously injured. He also discussed how the rains have changed the priorities for firefighters in the area.

“We’re gearing up,” he said. “We got sandbags and we’re getting sand delivered to stations. We’re going straight from fire weather to rain weather.”

Zuma Beach lifeguard Captain Fernando Boiteux said that lifeguards did not respond to any major storm-related incidents but were busy during the storm. He said that storm drains in the area that were closed had to be opened so water on Pacific Coast Highway could drain.

Motorists reported rocks and debris had fallen on Topanga Canyon Road near Pacific Coast Highway but no road closures were reported by the California Department of Transportation or by the City of Malibu’s road and traffic hotline.

A worry among residents is that rains this season will increase problems incurred late last year and earlier this year during one of the heaviest rainfall seasons on record. Last year’s rain water is still draining out of mountain creeks and some area roads are still awaiting repairs.

Melinda Barrett, a representative for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, which has been doing extensive work in the area to restore mountain roads, said that the storm was not serious as of yet.

“It’s a pretty typical winter storm and we are expecting it to end soon,” she said. “We are continuing to monitor land movement in the Santa Monica Mountains and as far as we know, there are no major changes.”