Motorists trapped as mudslides close California highway
  • Tuesday, January 15, 2019
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Motorists trapped as mudslides close California highway

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LOS ANGELES >> A powerful winter storm unleashed mudslides in Southern California wildfire burn areas and trapped motorists on a major highway, and the northern part of the state braced for more wet weather today.

Saturday’s deluge loosened hillsides where a major blaze burned last year in and around Malibu, clogging the Pacific Coast Highway with mud and debris.

A stretch of the scenic route northwest of Los Angeles was expected to remain closed in both directions until Monday while crews tow away stuck vehicles and clear lanes. No injuries were reported.

The rapper Soulja Boy was among those whose cars were mired in the muck that was up to 4 feet deep in some areas.

The 28-year-old retweeted a photo of the mudslide and posted: “My car got stuck too almost went into the ocean,” along with a prayer emoji.

An automated rain gauge in the western Santa Monica Mountains showed nearly three-quarters of an inch of rainfall in one hour, said the National Weather Service.

“These are heavy rates,” the weather service tweeted.

Up to 1 ½ inches of rain fell in coastal and valley areas, while mountain communities got heavy snow.

Flash-flood watches and warnings were eventually lifted for areas burned by the fires that scorched more than 155 square miles of brush and timber acres in November, destroyed about 1,600 structures and claimed three lives.

The sun emerged in Los Angeles on Sunday and the red carpet for the evenings Golden Globe awards were expected to remain dry. Scattered showers were possible later in the night.

To the north, wind and rain forced delays or cancelations of flights out of San Francisco International Airport for a second day. A wind advisory was in place until 10 p.m. today.

The San Francisco Bay Area could get up to 1 ½ inches of rain, with the heaviest downpours coming after sunset.

Saturday’s storm brought about a foot of snow to the Sierra Nevada and twice that amount was expected today. A winter storm warning was in effect until 4 a.m. Monday.

Avalanche warnings were posted in parts of California, Nevada and Utah. The Sierra Avalanche Center issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the Lake Tahoe area stretching south into the Sierra along the California-Nevada line from noon Sunday until 7 a.m. Monday.

The National Weather Service says blizzard conditions with gale-force winds could trigger widespread avalanche activity.

Two feet of snow was reported at Mammoth Mountain 150 miles south of Tahoe. More than a foot (30 centimeters) fell in the upper elevations around Tahoe, including 19 inches (48 cm) at Squaw Valley.

Windstorms that pummeled parts of Washington state and Oregon over the weekend left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity.

A strong system brought winds that registered gusts of about 60 mph at Sea-Tac Airport in Washington, the National Weather Service in Seattle said. Dozens of flights in the region were canceled or delayed.

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