Motorists left stranded on snow-clogged I-5 in Southern California as storm wreaks havoc, triggers mudslides

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
January 16, 2019, 6:50:49 AM EST


Emergency officials called for evacuations near several burn scar areas in Southern California as a powerful storm wreaked havoc with travel on Monday.

As heavy rain fell in the area, officials in Santa Barbara County called for evacuation orders for residents living near the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas Fire burn areas due to the risk of debris flows. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for a dozen areas near the burn scar areas of the Holy Fire in Riverside County early Monday, but they were later changed to a voluntary order, according to the Associated Press.

(KGET-TV via AP)

In this photo provided by KGET-TV, a line of big rigs are stalled on Interstate 5 where it has been closed due to snow at Tejon Pass, an area known as the Grapevine, at Gorman in the Tehachapi Mountains of Southern California Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

(Twitter/vnesscp)

Interstate 5 at Grapevine in California.

(Twitter/Deemo55)

Stuck on Interstate 5 at Grapevine in California.

(Twitter/vnesscp)

Interstate 5 at Grapevine in California.

(CalTrans via AP)

This photo provided by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) shows a skiploader clearing a river of mud that has flowed onto Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Calif., Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

(Twitter/CaltransDist7)

All lanes were close in both directions on Interstate 5 in the Gorman and Lebec area due to heavy snow, accidents and vehicles stopped.

(CalTrans via AP)

This photo provided by the California Department of Transportation shows traffic stopped on Interstate 5 where it has been closed due to snow at Tejon Pass, an area known as the Grapevine, at Gorman in the Tehachapi Mountains of Southern California, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

(Twitter/Deemo55)

Stuck on Interstate 5 at Grapevine in California.


The evacuation orders came about a week after the one year anniversary of deadly mudslides that ravaged the community of Montecito.

Snow that fell along Interstate 5 shut down travel through the Grapevine for several hours while mudflows caused closures along parts of the Pacific Coast Highway.


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Los Angeles County officials urged residents to stay away from urban rivers and flood control channels, saying water levels can rise quickly and without warning.

Los Angeles received over 1.75 inches of rain spanning Monday to Tuesday, and San Diego picked up just over 0.55 of an inch of rain, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott.

Flash flood watches were issued for recent burn areas including the Woolsey Fire, Hill Fire, Thomas Fire and Whittier Fire.

The storms forced the closure of schools in Malibu Tuesday.

The AP reported that a 20-foot-long, 20-foot-deep sinkhole opened on the I-805 off ramp near Serra Mesa in San Diego County.

The storm also brought strong winds that buffeted coastal areas. A 74-mph wind gust was reported at Point Conception Lighthouse along the Santa Barbara coast.

Monday's storm set up what will be a busy week of weather for the state, with several more storms expected to crash onshore this week. The largest of the systems is expected to last from Wednesday into Thursday, with the greatest impacts expected to occur in central and Northern California.

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