Deadly California storm washes out stretch of iconic Highway, floods homes

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Two people are dead in California after a massive winter storm system with an active atmospheric river slammed the West Coast.

A portion of Highway 1 along the iconic Big Sur Coast had also collapsed and washed away.

In this photo provided by Caltrans, a section of Highway 1 is collapsed following a heavy rainstorm near Big Sur, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. A drenching storm that brought California much-needed rain in what had been a dry winter wound down Friday after washing out Highway 1 near Big Sur, burying the Sierra Nevada in snow and causing muddy flows from slopes burned bare by wildfires. (Caltrans via AP)

The storm front flooded homes, triggered debris flows and mudslides, forced evacuations and brought hazardous blizzard-like conditions to higher elevations last week, shutting off power for hundreds of thousands of residents. 


One person died Friday after being trapped in a flooded storm drain system in the San Ysidro area of San Diego — reportedly near a Mexican border crossing — and another died Thursday while skiing at Mammoth Mountain, according to reports.

As heavy precipitation drenched the coastline, homes in the seaside city of Carmel were flooded when the Carmel River breached a natural sand levee.

A delivery driver passes sandbags outside a Carmel, Calif. home on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. The area was evacuated Thursday morning as authorities feared heavy rains could send mud and water through the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Elsewhere in Monterey County, mudflows damaged homes in Salinas and shuttered roadways. 

More than 10 inches fell in the area, and the city of Monterey received 3.46 inches, according to SFGate. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation on Friday for both Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties

Although fallen trees and whiteouts forced officials to close off Interstate 5 over the Grapevine and Highway 101 to travelers, California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported that a portion of Highway 1 along the iconic Big Sur Coast had collapsed and washed away.

In a Facebook post with a picture of the area, Monterey CHP officer Kyle Foster wrote warning that the “State Route 1 between MPM 40 and the San Luis Obispo county line continues to be impacted by inclement weather, debris flow, flooding, and slides.”

“This area is closed to the public. Remain clear of the area and plan alternate routes. Please continue to exercise extreme caution on rural roads, especially at night,” he cautioned.


The state’s Department of Transportation told The Associated Press that there was no estimate on when the popular driving route would reopen.

In 2017, a mudslide closed a part of the Big Sur coastline for more than a year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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