Southern California residents in Glendora and other foothill communities were bracing Monday for potential disaster after Sunday’s rain-triggered mudslide on Pacific Coast Highway offered a preview of what’s potentially to come.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service warned that rains that have already closed the coastal highway in Ventura County could wash loose mud and rocks in burn areas above Azusa and Glendora.
The foothills above those communities have been vulnerable since the Colby fire in January, a relatively small but devastating fire that burned 2,000 acres and five homes in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Southern California’s foothills and mountains could see 2 to 5 inches of rain Tuesday and Wednesday while the region’s coasts and valleys could receive about half that, according to the National Weather Service. Wind gusts could top 50 mph.
Meteorologists predict it will be the biggest rainstorm to hit Southern California since February.
“One storm is not a drought buster,” JPL climatologist Bill Patzert told the Los Angeles Times. “But hopefully it is a small down payment and a preview of the coming attractions for the next few months.”
On Sunday the storm caused the closure of PCH between Las Posas Road and Yerba Buena Road in southern Ventura County, and also a portion of Deer Creek Road between Yerba Buena and Cotharin roads, said Mike Lindbery, a spokesman with the Ventura County Fire Department.
Tumbling mud and rocks left 10 to 15 cars stranded at Sycamore Cove on the southern end of Point Mugu State Park, the California Highway Patrol reported. Two to three feet of mud and debris poured onto the highway near Mugu Rock and east to Deer Creek Road.
The road will be closed until Tuesday, Caltrans reported.
In Glendora, homeowner Ed Heinlein prepared over the weekend for his latest battle with the elements since the Colby fire. Heinlein’s home sits at the bottom of a muddy mountainside that’s prone to washing out during heavy storms. It was slammed with tons of mud and rocks earlier this year.
“We’re gonna get hit,” Heinlein told NBC4. “Stuff’s gonna come through the house like last time. This is gonna be drainage area right through my property.”
The last major rainstorm, a three-day soaker that brought 4 inches in late February, led to rock slides in Malibu, power outages in Long Beach and mudslides in the foothills.
“That was a mess,” Patzert recalled. “I don’t think this event will live up to that kind of rain. This might be half of that. ... I can’t wait to sit on my porch and watch it rain.”
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