Why California Mudslides Are So Devastating

Almost 100% gone.”
Given the circumstances, it takes hardly any rain to produce a mudslide. “Mud came in an instant, like a dam breaking,” he said. “It’s a treacherous situation.”
Images of boulders crashing downhill proved Peterson’s point. The elevation drops off sharply
“In these mountains, we go from 3,000 feet to sea level in sometimes just four or five miles,” Fayram said. “I just feel bad for people who lost their homes … First, wildfires scorched a massive area northwest of Los Angeles. “(It) surrounded the house, 2 to 3 feet.”
Drought has exacerbated the problem
California has suffered from years of drought. Please enable Javascript to watch this video
Southern Californians just can’t get a break from nature. Now catastrophic mudslides have swallowed homes and killed at least 15 people. Its geology means rockslides, too
In the foothills of Montecito, east of Santa Barbara, the soil just sits on rock — “all rock,” resident Dave Peterson said. That means mudslides and rockslides happen quickly — and with great intensity. “About a half an inch per hour can start to produce issues, mudslides,” Robbie Monroe of the National Weather Service’s Oxnard office told CNN. They shouldn’t have to handle any more.”


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But a variety of unique factors have made this latest destruction especially calamitous. That means vegetation that would normally be able to soak up floodwater no longer exists. Journalists stand in ankle-deep mud after a rain-driven mudslide in Burbank on January 9, 2018. “We’re kind of damned if we do and if we don’t get rain,” Fayram said. Ben Hyatt of Montecito said his house was engulfed in a flash. “That’s all gone. “When that soil gets wet, it just slides off the rock,” Peterson said. “It’s just too much to handle after everything that’s happened,” she said. Ironically, the rain currently deluging the area is actually needed to grow the vegetation that helps prevent mudslides. “We need the rain, but we don’t need a serious debris-flow problem, either.”
Pamela Ueckert of Ventura said the disasters tormenting Southern California have been unbearable. Wildfires just torched the area
Last month the sprawling Thomas Fire destroyed more than 282,000 acres — the equivalent of more than Dallas and Miami combined. “All these hills normally have a protective cover of chaparral,” said Tom Fayram, Santa Barbara’s deputy director of public works.