Photos: At least 15 dead in southern California mudslide
Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 1:18 PM - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's department says at least 15 people have died in southern California after persistent heavy rain triggered flash flooding and mudslides on Tuesday. Those numbers are expected to rise as rescue efforts and the search for survivors continue on Wednesday.
Several homes were destroyed and others damaged by floodwater, mudflow and debris in Montecito, an affluent community in Santa Barabara County which lies 160 km northwest of Los Angeles. The town sits above the US 101 Freeway, which was closed due to the mudslides on Tuesday for a 65 km stretch between Santa Barbara and Ventura.
In anticipation of a potent Pacific storm, Santa Barbara issued mandatory evacuations for Thomas, Whittier, Sherpa, and Rey Fire burn areas on Monday, including parts of Montecito, Summerland and Carpentiera. At 9 p.m. PST Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office declared a public safety exclusion zone in Montecito and surrounding areas, forbidding residents from leaving their homes, in order to facilitate rescue and recovery operations.
The largest fire in California's history, the Thomas Fire, scorched roughly 281,893 acres of land and is only 92% contained. The fire left a large burn scar which is void of vegetation. A period of dry weather alters soil and makes it repel water, increasing the risk of runoff during heavy rainfall. Floodwater picked up loose soil and debris from the Thomas Fire burn area, creating dangerous mudflow which cascaded down into communities below.
The storm began to push heavy rain into California on Monday, and 6,000 residents in Santa Barbara were told to evacuate as the National Weather Service (NWS) issued flash flood warnings for the county, as well as Los Angeles and Ventura. The agency anticipated rain would fall at a rate of 12-15 mm an hour on Tuesday.
Between 3 and 4 a.m Tuesday, 21.6 mm (.85 in.) of rain fell in Montecito, with 18.5 mm more falling throughout the day bringing the cumulative total as of Wednesday afternoon to just over 72 mm.
• Santa Barbara County Sheriff says 15 have died.
• Mandatory evacuations affecting 7,000 people in Santa Barbara County. Volunteer evacuations affecting 23,000 people.
• At least 50 rescued by hoist, dozens more by ground
• Power outages affecting over 6,000 homes and businesses, primarily in the Montecito area
• NWS issued flash flood warnings for much of Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties on Tuesday, which have since been dropped
• According to CNN, at least 6 homes in Montecito were ripped from their foundations
• About 30,000 southern California residents were under evacuation orders or advisories on Monday, ABC news reported
• Parts of Santa Barbara's south coast saw 65 mm of rain between Monday and Tuesday morning
Photos and video from the destructive flooding, below:
Boulders block a road after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Emergency personnel rescue people from flood waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department January 9, 2018. Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS
Emergency personnel inspect a damaged home on Hot Springs Road after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS
A search dog looks for victims in damaged homes after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS
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