Flooding, mudslides and snow hit California roads

Flooding, mudslides and snow closed several highways in California over the weekend, with more rain and snow...

Posted: Jan 7, 2019 3:55 PM
Updated: Jan 7, 2019 3:55 PM

Flooding, mudslides and snow closed several highways in California over the weekend, with more rain and snow set to hit later in the week.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) late Sunday urged motorists to check conditions before travel.

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It said widespread rain and snow had impacted highways, with some closed due to whiteout conditions and spin outs in the Sierra Nevada.

Interstate 80 was closed "due to zero visibility" from Colfax to the Nevada state line, Caltrans said.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District reported "a large number of outages due to high winds and winter storm conditions" on their website but tweeted late Sunday that electricity was being restored.

"Our crews have safely restored power to more than 40,000 customers and are continuing to work through the night to restore power to everyone," it said.

These latest weather emergencies have been exacerbated by wildfires, more frequent and widespread lately because of climate change, CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said.

The effects of the burning keep water from being soaked into dry ground devoid of vegetation, spurring floods and mudflows, she said.

In Southern California, the Palmdale Mountain Wave has developed with sustained winds of 40 to 55 mph and gusts up to 70 mph, the National Weather Service tweeted.

Several rocks fell on Highway 1 south of Big Sur, and the road was closed until it could be assessed at daybreak Monday, according to Caltrans.

Roadway flooding is expected in Santa Barbara County over the next few hours, according to the NWS Los Angeles.

Portions of the Pacific Coast Highway affected by mudslides will remain closed until Tuesday, according to Caltrans District 7, which serves Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Caltrans tweeted that a storm Saturday night "wreaked" havoc on the Pacific Coast Highway, sharing video of crews clearing the mud Sunday.

Rapper Soulja Boy tweeted that he was also impacted by the mudslides, saying his car got stuck and "almost went into the ocean."

Outlook for next few days

CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said the winds and rains in Southern California should end by early afternoon Monday but that more rain would arrive in the area by midweek.

Further north, rain would move into San Francisco and the Oregon coast by midday ahead of another storm system, Guy said.

"This will spread into Washington state later Monday with snow in the higher elevations of Sierra Nevada of California up through the Cascades of Washington state," he said.

The rain and snow is forecast to continue until Thursday with areas along the coast and parts of Northern California set to receive two to four inches of rain.

"This will exacerbate the problem with mudslides in the area as occurred over the weekend. The mountain ranges could see over a foot of snow through the end of the week," Guy said.

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