The Latest: Flooding closes key Southern California highway
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on California storms (all times local):
The state transportation agency has closed a key Southern California highway because of flooding after a powerful storm dropped more than a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) of rain in five minutes.
Caltrans says several miles of U.S 101 is shut Saturday in Santa Barbara County because of water and mud in lanes. The highway is a vital route between Los Angeles and parts north and west.
Nearby neighborhoods in wildfire burn areas are under mandatory evacuation orders because of the high risk of debris flows.
It’s the same area where mud and boulders came down in heavy rain just over a year ago. That disaster in January 2018 killed 21 people, and two others have never been found.
The second storm in three days is flooding roads and bringing down trees across the region.
Authorities say a volunteer member of a sheriff’s search and rescue team was struck by a vehicle and killed after stopping to help at the scene of a highway traffic collision during heavy rain in Southern California.
Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow says several people, including two other members of the team, were hurt in the two crashes Saturday on Interstate 5.
Buschow says the team was heading for a training exercise when it stopped to provide aid in the Pyramid Lake area of Los Angeles County. He says another vehicle plowed into them.
Officials didn’t immediately say whether the collisions were weather-related. A powerful storm has flooded roadways throughout the region.
Forecasters say up to a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) of rain was recorded in five minutes in some areas.
The second in a string of powerful storms is battering California, bringing down trees, flooding roadways and prompting evacuations in wildfire burn areas where intense downpours could loosen bare hillsides and cause mudslides.
Forecasters said Saturday that a wind gust in Santa Barbara County topped 80 mph (128 kph) as the storm moved south.
Flash flood watches and wind warnings were issued for the southern part of the state after being lifted in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Motorists were urged to avoid travel in mountain areas where heavy snow is expected.
The National Weather Service says some sections of greater Los Angeles could see 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain before the system loses steam.
It will be followed by additional — though less powerful — storms into next week.
A powerful storm sweeping California has prompted flash-flood watches and evacuations in areas stripped bare by devastating wildfires.
The storm that began moving in Friday night is expected to bring up to 4 inches of rain in some areas, winds gusting to 80 mph, 10-foot waves and up to 10 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada.
A flash-flood watch is in place through Saturday morning for the entire San Francisco Bay Area and much of the Central Coast.
Evacuations have been ordered or recommended for many areas of Northern and Southern California that were hit by wildfires in recent months. Authorities fear that an inch of rain an hour could send fire debris, mud and boulders sluicing down denuded hillsides.
The National Weather Service says more rain and snow could arrive with cold weather systems on Sunday and Monday.