The first rain to fall over the burn-scarred areas of the Woolsey fire is expected to start Wednesday night. Forecasters are predicting it will be a weak storm, not intense enough to trigger significant flows of mud and debris — although it could cause some minor rockslides and mudslides.
But experts say stronger storms in the coming months have the potential to send life-threatening mudflows plowing through neighborhoods. That threat has authorities urging residents living on or below hillsides, in canyons and along stream channels to take steps to prepare their homes, keep an eye on the weather, quickly heed warnings and evacuation orders, and be ready to leave well before the rain arrives.
“If you can see burned hillsides from your house, you are threatened by debris flow,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt, who works with emergency planners and other local officials to coordinate warnings. “You don’t want to be there when the rain starts. There’s just not enough time to wait and see what happens.”