Extreme Flooding

Fire and rain: Wave of storms triggering mudslides in California. Mudslides traveling at 40 mph down hills and mountains. Perilous indeed!

Fire and rain: Wave of storms triggering mudslides in California. Mudslides traveling at 40mph.

John Bacon. USA TODAY•January 15, 2019

Mudslides and flooding that forced closure of sections of the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway threatened much of California on Tuesday as heavy rains and snow were forecast deep into the week.

“There will be no day through at least Thursday when a significant part of California is not being affected by a storm rolling in from the Pacific Ocean,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Rainfall totals for the storms could reach 4-8 inches along the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the northern Coast Ranges, as well as some mountains surrounding Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

The National Weather Service said a “deep Pacific trough” off the West Coast will remain in place over the next few days and approach central California late Tuesday.

“A much stronger storm arrives Wednesday night,” the weather service added.

Burn scar areas hit by last year’s wildfires will be most susceptible to devastating debris flows, but flooding and mudslides may not be limited to these communities, AccuWeather said.

In Los Angeles County, a section of the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu was closed for several hours Monday because of what the state Transportation Department – Caltrans – described as “significant mud flow and runoff in various areas.” On the central coast, a section of the highway was also closed near Big Sur.

Northwest of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara County issued an evacuation order for homes and businesses below the Thomas Fire and Sherpa and Whittier Fire burn areas. To the southwest, Riverside County eased its evacuation order for the Holy Fire burn area to voluntary from mandatory.

That did little to assuage the concerns of Mary Lou Peralta, who lives in the evacuation area.

“We had a clubhouse meeting and they told us the mudslides could come down the hill at 40 miles per hour,” Peralta told KTLA-TV. “That’s very scary. It’s dangerous.”

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