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A Massive Storm Hit Southern California And Chaos Ensued

The storm destroyed freeways, crushed cars, and caused two deaths.

Posted on February 18, 2017, at 1:40 a.m. ET

A man struggles against the storm Friday in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Jae C. Hong / AP

A man struggles against the storm Friday in Huntington Beach, Calif.

The most powerful storm in years to hit Southern California battered the region Friday with heavy rain and winds, leaving behind surreal scenes in its wake.

The storm dropped an incredible 8.7 inches of rain in the hills of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. In more densely populated Los Angeles, two inches fell on downtown. Canoga Park received more than 4.7 inches of rain, and Long Beach saw 2.7 inches — a record.

The storm left at least two people dead as of Friday night; a 55-year-old man was killed when he was electrocuted by downed power lines, and another person died in a submerged vehicle in Victorville

Elsewhere across Southern California, chaos took other forms.

In the Cajon Pass, which links Southern California to Las Vegas, a section of Interstate 15 collapsed, sending a fire truck tumbling down a cliffside as if it were a toy.

INCREDIBLE VIDEO: part of SB I-15 is washed away; fire engine tumbles off the side; fortunately no one hurt

No firefighters were injured when the truck toppled off the interstate, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department, however the incident forced the closure of the usually busy freeway on a holiday weekend. Images from the scene showed heavy traffic backed up.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a sinkhole swallowed up two cars Friday night, prompting fire crews to mount a rescue.

2 cars in a giant bubbling sinkhole. Not a movie. Wow. #StudioCity @NBCLA

According to reporters at the scene, one person was injured and had to be hospitalized.

Not one, but two cars inside a giant sinkhole. Firefighters on the scene at Laurel Canyon and Woodbridge Street in… https://t.co/lqKBIcxwJT

The sinkhole and Interstate 15 collapse were just the conclusion of a long and very wet day across the entire region. As the storm began, many noted that Los Angeles waterways, usually dry and empty, were brimming with water.

Thursday v Friday #LARain #lariver #LAStorm #sanfernandovalley

Some people took advantage of all the water to surf in the streets.

Just saw this guy surfing down Coldwater Canyon in Studio City. #LARain @KPCC

Others documented the process of LA's buildings turning into waterfalls.

Yeah, it's a little rainy in Los Angeles. Check out the parking lot stairs at my local Target. #LARain

As the day wore on and the rain continued, Southern California roadways became clogged with several inches — and in some cases feet — of water.

There's so much water this semi driving through a flooded Southern California underpass looks almost like boat (fro… https://t.co/8H7o1Vt5H9

The flooding forced the closure of major highways.

110 Fwy SHUT DOWN in both directions between Slauson Ave. & the 10 Fwy due to flooding. Cars stuck in several feet… https://t.co/1kTvJ4pob6

Cars were trapped.

#LArain This poor soul thought his car was a boat. NB 5 at Lankershim. I hope he can swim. @ABC7 @KNX1070 @NBCLA… https://t.co/MdAj6BpfdF

Trees toppled.

Tree down, power out. @LADWP crews are on site #LARain @KNX1070

An apartment building in Los Angeles' Westwood neighborhood was smashed.

Imagine this big tree crashing into your apartment?! This happened in Westwood at 1pm. No injuries LARain #nbc4you… https://t.co/JTrWhOW5sy

In other areas, floodwaters rose until they reached houses.

NEW: flood waters starting to inundate low-lying homes southeast side of Oxnard, CA! @breakingweather #cawx… https://t.co/rq4leSSH6P

The storm came during the state's wettest winter in several years, and as the region looks increasingly likely to emerge from its nearly six-year drought.

By Friday night, the rain was tapering off, though waterways were still swollen and authorities continued watching hillsides for signs of collapse. It also remained to be seen how extensive the damage from the storm was, and how long it would take to fix it.


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