LOS ANGELES - Southern California is bracing for a winter storm that could bring heavy rainfall and possible mudslides in burn scar areas.
"If we look around today [Wednesday], it looks like a beautiful day but this is very deceiving because in less than 24 hours, we're expecting anywhere from two to five inches in some of these areas," said Henry Narvaez, the Public Information Officer from the County of Los Angeles Fire Department.
Narvaez said the areas of concern are burn areas where fires recently ravaged last year and in years past.
"Unfortunately, we've had quite a few big fires over the last few months and with those fires came the elimination of a lot of the vegetation that's on these hills. That vegetation and as well as their root system helps to hold these hillsides and the soil together and it helps absorb a lot of the water that comes down. It isn't the first time that we've seen rain here, but it is the first time that a lot of these burn areas will see rain without the vegetation to absorb it," said Narvaez.
Narvaez said the rainfall could lead to evacuations in LA County.
"For those evacuations, it's very important that we evacuate when we're told to do so and not to wait," he said.
He stressed having a plan ahead of the storm too.
"Is your car fueled up? Is it parked backwards in your garage or driveway, ready to leave in a moment's notice? Do you have all of your important documentation and important papers that you might need," he said.
Narvaez said heavy rainfall could have damaging effects throughout Southern California.
"A concern is half an inch of rain an hour [which is currently forecasted] will be dangerous accumulated over an extended amount of time. We understand it takes about six inches of running water to knock an adult off of his feet onto the ground and it takes about 12 inches of water to pick up and float a vehicle down the road. Once the mud slide's begin, it's a swift moving current of water so it's very hard to stop and it's almost impossible to control so even though it may happen a couple of blocks down the road, it'll be in and near your neighborhood fairly shortly and with more velocity," he said.
Narvaez said the LA County Fire Department will have extra staffing Thursday along with urban search and rescue, and swift water rescue teams.
"We plan for an evacuation scenario. We plan for a mudslide scenario so we are prepared for that. We've staffed for it so if it does come, it doesn't catch us off guard," Narvaez said.
Sandbags are available at LA County Fire Departments, but some are running out of supplies due to people preparing for the storm.