Sinkholes crop up across Southern California after winter storms battered the region

A car is flipped over inside a large sinkhole.
A large sinkhole swallowed a vehicle parked in front of Santa Paula High School in Ventura County on Thursday.
(Ventura County Fire Department)

Sinkholes have cropped up across Southern California after days of rain and snow pummeled the state.

A large sinkhole in front of Santa Paula High School in Ventura County emerged on 6th Street, resulting in an unoccupied car falling inside Wednesday, the Ventura County Fire Department wrote on Twitter.

The incident was stabilized and no injuries were reported, the Fire Department said. The scene was turned over to the Santa Paula Police Department.


“It’s a ruptured storm drain pipe that after we got all the heavy rains in January and recently this past weekend, water in the pipe shot out of it and eroded it away underneath the pavement,” said Clete Saunier, director of public works for Santa Paula.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Wednesday for 13 counties in California that have been hammered by historic winter storms.

March 1, 2023

Saunier said the erosion is localized to the west side of the pavement up 6th Street along the pipelines, but there’s no reason to believe it extends north of East Virginia Terrace or south of East Pleasant Street.

The high school was closed Thursday as crews continued work on the sinkhole, said Saunier, adding that he directed one of the contractors to do CCTV monitoring inside the pipes around the high school to make sure that the walls of the pipes are intact.

Sinkholes have also emerged in other parts of Southern California.

A sinkhole appeared at Cal State Los Angeles underneath Circle Drive between Campus Road and the entrance to Lot 2, school officials tweeted on Wednesday.

After geotechnical engineers inspected the site, they determined that the affected area is larger than originally believed. Fencing was adjusted to block off the area, and it was deemed unsafe for cars and pedestrians.

The snow-capped Sierra Nevada and the Santa Monica Mountains north of Malibu are among the areas of California no longer considered to be in drought.

March 2, 2023

In the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles, a sinkhole appeared Wednesday in the 1200 block of Elden Avenue, according to a City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works news release.


Public works crew assessed the sinkhole and determined no utilities were affected and no pipes were broken, according to the release. Crew members are still on site making repairs, which should be completed by the end of the week. The traffic lane where the sinkhole emerged is closed.

Elena Stern, a spokesperson for the city’s public works department, said that there are about three sinkholes in Los Angeles, but she doesn’t know if they’re storm-related.

She recommended that anyone who encounters a sinkhole maintain a safe distance and call 311 or report it to MyLA311.