Malibu Weathers Major October Rainstorm

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Precipitation totals for Southern California show the heaviest rain fell to the northwest of Malibu; however, the Santa Monica Mountains received a healthy average of 1 inch of rain in the storm, among the most in Los Angeles County.

With authorities predicting another potentially devastating wildfire season on the horizon, Californians were breathing a small sigh of relief this week following a so-called “atmospheric river” of moisture that dumped inches of rain throughout the state on Sunday and Monday, Oct. 24 and 25, including here in Malibu.

Although the storm was not expected to alleviate the ongoing drought conditions experienced statewide, the storm brought welcome moisture early in the season.

Rain gauges registered 1.4 inches accumulated at Malibu Canyon due to this storm—more than doubling the total precipitation recorded there so far in 2021, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Malibu Hills saw an even more dramatic increase in recorded rainfall—so Malibu Hills had received just .13 inches of rain so far in 2021. Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday, more than an inch fell in the area, bringing the total rainfall measured so far this year to 1.18 inches.

During the day on Monday, the NWS issued a flood advisory throughout Los Angeles County, but very few flooding issues and traffic problems were recorded in Malibu. 

Traffic on Malibu’s canyon roads was affected by minor rockslides, with slowdowns on Malibu Canyon Road near the tunnel and Encinal Canyon Road above Fire Camp 13, both due to debris/boulders in the roadway, according to the California Highway Patrol. Neither of those issues resulted in road closures or injuries.

Electrical power was more of a problem, with Southern California Edison customers in various neighborhoods going in and out of service as “transformer explosions” and “equipment problems” were reported.

On Monday morning, Kanan Dume Road was reported closed near Troutdale Drive in Agoura Hills due to a “transformer explosion” that also knocked out power to the area. That closure was in effect for about 90 minutes.

Power was out Monday afternoon to dozens of Southern California Edison customers in Malibu, according to the utility company’s outage map. The cause of the outages was listed as “equipment problems” for some customers and “pole upgrade” for others. Earlier in the day, just before 11 a.m., the City of Malibu reported 60 customers were without power due to a “transformer explosion” that knocked out power to the Serra Retreat neighborhood.

The Malibu City Council meeting set for Monday night was postponed until Tuesday, Nov. 2, due to power outages. The agenda for that meeting can be found at malibucity.org/agendacenter.

Southern California’s rain totals pale in comparison to what was seen up north. In San Francisco, more than four inches of rain fell in 24 hours on Sunday, making it the fourth-wettest day on record in the city where official records go back to 1849. 

“This was a frog-choker, but not a drought buster,” Jeffrey Mount, a professor emeritus of earth and planetary sciences at UC Davis, told The Mercury News. “We’re still in a drought. But this storm sanded off some of its rough edges.” 

“It’s more than a drop in the bucket,” Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services in Half Moon Bay, told the Mercury. “But it doesn’t fill the bucket.”