Giant green stems with budding yellow flowers greeted hikers along a narrow path beneath the soaring Santa Monica Mountains on a recent drizzly day. This is where, just seven months ago, the worst fire in Los Angeles County history swept through, destroying more than 1,000 homes and blackening miles of hillsides and canyon. But thanks to one of the wettest seasons in years, rains have transformed the fire zone back to life with great speed. And all those flowering black mustard plants point to a looming disaster once the rains finally end and Southern California shifts to its dry, hot, windy summer and fall.
Californians gearing up for a long Memorial Day weekend full of sun were sorely disappointed Wednesday. Rain, wind and lightning battered the state as locals braved cooler temperatures that even delivered hail. The hail may have had some residents questioning the point of living in Southern California if there is hail in late spring. The rain jammed up afternoon commutes, and lightning closed all beaches stretching from Dockweiler State Beach to Malibu for a little under two hours starting about 2:30 p.m.