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Mudslide Reported in Southern California; Thousands Under Evacuation Orders

04 March, 2018, 02:03 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Santa Barbara County has spent an estimated $46 million on debris removal and other emergency response work following the Thomas Fire in December and Jan. 9 Montecito debris flow

A blizzard warning has expired but the National Weather Service says whiteout conditions are still possible around Lake Tahoe where 3 feet of snow (90 centimetres ) already has fallen and winds gusting to almost 150 miles per hour (240 kph) shut down Interstate 80.

Four feet of snow at Mammoth Mountain and three feet at the Mount Rose ski resort near Reno were also reported Friday morning, leading to school closures in the area.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for parts of Santa Barbara County on Thursday as the week's second winter storm approached, leaving areas with recent burn areas susceptible to mudslides and debris flows.

Emergency Operations partners will be analyzing the evacuation process and thresholds for this event.

As much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) of new snow was possible in the upper elevations of the Sierra around Tahoe, where more than a foot (30 centimeters) fell Thursday. For help evacuating animals, call Santa Barbara County Animal Services at 805-681-4332.

Precipitation early on Friday may be strong enough to trigger debris flows.

"It's a winter wonderland out there this morning!" the San Diego area National Weather Service office tweeted.

No information was available on the rate of rainfall, but some areas above Goleta and Montecito did receive more than 2 inches during the course of the storm.

"We want everyone to be out of the area and out of harm's way by nightfall", Mr Brown said.

According to county officials, the storm caused minor damage in the area, but "no damages were sustained to utility infrastructure".

Predictions of widespread showers raised concern about flash flooding when the storm reaches Southern California.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 people in south coast communities of Santa Barbara County will be affected by the order, Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Homes and businesses were destroyed, and 21 people were killed. "We have been told that it is very precarious and very risky", Sheriff Brown said, adding that the county is taking precautions to ensure that no one is in harm's way "...if we have another sizable debris flow".

The order encompasses Montecito, where a January 9 storm triggered flash floods that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.


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