Skip Navigation
"Prepare. Respond. Recover. It's time to get Ready LA" - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Despite all the sunshine, don’t get rid of that raincoat or umbrella just yet! Los Angeles is a semi-desert area of mountains, canyons, ravines and vast basins, the perfect setting or disaster when major thunderstorms, high winds and other inclement weather strikes. Flooding can quickly occur in the mountain passes and valleys, while hillsides with sparse vegetation become prime starting points for treacherous mudslides. For the most part, the area’s weather is mild and sunny so it is easy to forget how quickly a storm system can change the landscape… and send you running for cover!

Severe Weather and Flooding

Flood and mudslide facts
Hillside flood
  • Floods can occur at any time, though many occur after winter snow melts, heavy spring rains or tropical storms.
  • Just 6 inches of rapidly moving flood water can knock a person down.
  • It only takes 2 feet of water to float a large vehicle.
  • Floods can be slow or fast rising, but most develop over a period of days.
  • Property damage from flooding totals over $1 billion per year in the U.S.
  • Mudslides can easily exceed speeds of 10 miles per hour. How fast can you run?
  • Steep hillsides and canyons without vegetation provide prime opportunities for mudslides.
Before the flood
home office
Before the water rises, keep a level head. To protect your home if a flood is imminent, you can take several precautionary steps for emergency preparedness ahead of the event.

  • Locate your insurance policy and contact your insurance agent for any pertinent advice.
  • Develop a family preparedness plan in which you decide where to go if at home, school, work, outside or in a car when flood waters rise.
  • Stock an emergency supplies kit, which should be checked and replenished every six months thereafter
  • Bring in or secure any outdoor items that might cause damage or be lost in the event of high waters.
  • Scrub bathtubs and sinks with bleach to remove bacteria, then fill them with water
  • Move your valuable possessions to the highest areas of your house.
  • Be prepared to evacuate, if requested to do so by the authorities.
Indoor safety tips
man preparing for flood
Volatile weather conditions can present a wide range of hazards from flooding and high winds, to mudslides, sinkholes and power outages. The best course of action during severe rains or flooding is to remain inside your home unless expressly instructed to evacuate. If you are planning to remain in your home, you should follow the recommendations below:

  • Shelter your pets, if possible.
  • Stay away from windows and glass walls.
  • In the case of a severe thunderstorm, minimize your use of the telephone, computers and other electrical equipment.
  • Report all broken utility lines and stay clear of them.
  • If power is still on, stay abreast of TV or radio flood reports and follow their instructions.
Outdoor Safety tips
car in flood waters
We love our mountains, canyons and valleys in Southern California. They're rugged, they're dramatic... they're prime hot spots for flash flooding! Our dry climate makes us a trigger point, too, because heavy precipitation takes awhile to work its way into the hard ground, leaving plenty of opportunities for fast, rushing water to build up quickly. Dry rivers, creekbeds and deep slot canyons can be especially dangerous for those caught by a rapidly moving flash flood. So if high water is something you hope to avoid, the best emergency preparedness is to take a moment to get to know this natural phenomenon a little bit better:

  • Flash floods can turn a calm landscape into a raging river in a matter of minutes.
  • Most flash floods are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, hurricanes or tropical storms, but also by dam or levee failures.
  • Flash floods can move boulders, rip out trees, knock down bridges and destroy buildings… now consider what they can do to you.
  • Walls of water, often filled with debris, can reach up to 20 feet.
  • If you receive a warning or are caught in a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
 Flash floods - the sudden danger
flowing water
Okay, you’re outside… and you’re wet and miserable from severe weather or flooding. But real disaster can be averted by staying calm and following several simple rules.

  • If lightning is present, stay away from trees and metal objects
  • Rather than trying to outrun fast-moving flood waters, go immediately to higher ground.
  • Stay clear of barren hillsides and canyon areas that could be susceptible to mudslides.
  • Look for unusual cracks near your residence as a first sign of ground movement.
  • If you are in your car, do not attempt to drive through flood waters.
  • Should your car stall in high waters, abandon it immediately and move to higher ground.



Back to top