Feb 14, 2019

Mudslide risk from California storm forces hundreds to evacuate

Lake Elsinore, CA
USA
by
Andrew Hay
,
Reuters
Snow capped mountains are seen behind the downtown Los Angeles skyline, California, U.S., February 12, 2019. Photo: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters
Snow capped mountains are seen behind the downtown Los Angeles skyline, California, U.S., February 12, 2019. Photo: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

Hundreds of California residents were ordered to evacuate their homes on Wednesday as rain from a powerful Pacific storm raised the risk of mudslides in areas hit by recent wildfires.

Some areas around Los Angeles could see over 5 inches (13 cm) of rain from the storm, which is being channeled to the coast by a flow of atmospheric moisture known as the “Pineapple Express.”

The storm, the wettest to hit California this winter, was set to peak on Thursday and has already sparked flood watches from Arizona to Washington.

Residents of Lake Elsinore, 56 miles (90 km) east of Los Angeles got mandatory evacuation orders over risks nearby hillsides scorched by fire in 2018 could turn into rivers of mud and debris that could carry away cars and homes.

“It’s going to be heavy and fast,” said Bob Oravec, meteorologist with the NWS’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “Debris flows and mudslides are a risk in any area scorched by the wildfires. There’s little to no vegetation to slow that water down.”