What residents need to know as the ‘bomb cyclone’ moves through Long Beach

A strong atmospheric river is making its way through Southern California and Long Beach this week, causing freeway closures, flood advisories and power outages.

The main front of the “bomb cyclone” moved into the area overnight, but forecasters said the storm wound up marching across the region much faster than anticipated, which “greatly reduced the amount of rainfall through the area,” according to the National Weather Service.

Over the past 72 hours, Long Beach has gotten 1.86 inches of rain, and National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt told the Post that the number is expected to grow as another storm moves through the region this weekend.

The city issued a storm advisory on Wednesday, warning residents of the possible dangers accompanied by heavy rainfall like high winds, ocean swell, high tides and flooding.

“We encourage residents to prepare now, especially if you live in low-lying areas prone to flooding,” LBFD wrote in a Wednesday tweet, informing residents of places to pick up sandbags to help keep stormwater away from their homes.

Sandbags are available for pick up at the Claremont Lot, located at Ocean Boulevard and 54th Place, where the LBFD, the Long Beach Community Emergency Response Team, Search and Rescue, Medical Reserve Corps and other volunteers have set up a base of operations to provide additional community assistance as needed.

Sandbags are available for Long Beach residents at all neighborhood fire stations and at the Lifeguard Station located at 72nd Place and Ocean Boulevard.

Here are the locations of the fire stations providing sand and sandbags:

  • Station 7 (2295 Elm St.)
  • Station 12 (1199 Artesia Blvd.)
  • Station 13 (2476 Adriatic Ave.)
  • Station 14 (5200 Eliot St.)

There is a limit of 10 bags of sand per person, the city said in a release. Residents must bring an identification card with them and are encouraged to bring a shovel.

Long Beach Public Works also canceled street sweeping Wednesday and Thursday due to the rain. It has not been canceled for Friday, Jan. 6. Up-to-date information can be found on the Public Works Twitter page or by calling (562) 570-2890.

Several power outages were reported in the city Thursday, though it’s unclear how many of them were caused by the storm. As of 12:30 p.m., Southern California Edison had reported five active outages in Long Beach affecting 2,104 customers, but by 2 p.m., all but one of those outages had been repaired, and only 10 customers remained impacted.

Commutes were affected, as well. The 710 Freeway in North Long Beach in both directions early Thursday due to heavy flooding, according to the California Highway Patrol.

There was about 3 feet of standing water on the freeway near Artesia Boulevard, according to details from the CHP’s online information center.

Just after 1 p.m., CHP reported that the freeway had fully reopened.

On southbound I-405 at Cherry Avenue, the on and off ramps were also closed due to flooding, according to Caltrans. Electricians were on scene fixing a pump house that was having electrical issues, Caltrans said in a tweet. The freeway was reopened at 11:41 a.m.

A flood watch that includes much of the state including Long Beach, issued by the National Weather Service, was in effect until Thursday afternoon.

The city is also advising that residents to stay away from beaches as bacterial levels rise significantly during and after rainstorms. While no beaches have been closed, it is recommended that swimmers stay out of the water for at least 72 hours after rainfall ends.

According to the NWS, waves of up to 13 feet could hit the Catalina and Santa Barbara islands, the Malibu coast and LA County beaches, along with dangerous rip currents. A high surf advisory across the area will also be in effect until Friday evening, according to the NWS.

Massive rainstorms pose threats to the particularly vulnerable homeless population as well. The city said that Long Beach Fire Swiftwater Rescue team members have been deployed and are actively conducting patrols along the riverbed to inform people of the dangers. Outreach workers from the Long Beach Health Department’s homeless services division are conducting outreach along the riverbed and are working to educate people about safety concerns and helping them find safer places to sleep, according to the city.

On Thursday, crews were building protective sand berms across the peninsula to protect residents and property. According to a release, LBFD Rescue Boats will monitor the coastline, patrol the harbor and marinas and respond to calls for service during the period of heaviest rain.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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Laura Anaya-Morga is a general assignment reporter for the Long Beach Post.
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