At least 13 dead as rainfall in Southern California triggers mudslides and flooding


At least 13 dead as rainfall in Southern California triggers mudslides and flooding

Dan Conway

10 January 2018

At least 13 people were confirmed dead Tuesday as a result of the first significant rainfall to reach Southern California this season. The rains were the heaviest seen in the region since last February. The multiple deaths were primarily caused by mudslides triggered as the rains fell in areas affected by massive wildfires that engulfed the region only a few weeks before.

One of these fires, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, grew to be the largest in state history and has been burning since December 4, 2017, although fire officials are allowing the fire to burn at its remaining northeastern flank with complete containment expected by January 21, 2018.

The most severe impact from mudslides and flooding Tuesday occurred, as expected, in the area ravaged by the Thomas Fire. Rains began in the area around 2:30 a.m., causing mudflows in excess of three feet deep. More than five inches of rain poured over thousands of acres of hillsides barren of any vegetation after the fires burned through it all.

Debris blocks a freeway entrance after a mudslide [Source IG: @MikeEliason]

Approximately 7,000 residents were evacuated from affected hillside communities according to Santa Barbara County officials. Officials also issued a boil water notice for the entire Montecito Water District on Tuesday afternoon.

While only two individuals were killed directly by the Thomas Fire itself, it can be said that Tuesday’s mudslides increased the total to ten, as the danger of mudslide activity would have been sharply reduced if not completely eliminated in the absence of the fire’s recent devastation. Moreover, officials estimate that the death toll will increase as rescue…

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