Tuesday, December 11, 2018
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

California mudslides: At least 13 killed, thousands evacuated

Torrents of mud overran roads and upscale neighbourhoods in the wake of heavy rains near Santa Barbara.

At least 13 people have been killed and dozens of homes have been swept away after mudslides roared down the Californian hillsides.

Helicopters were used to pluck more than 50 people from rooftops after downed trees and power lines blocked roads. Dozens more people were rescued on the ground, including a mud-caked 14-year-old girl who was pulled from a collapsed home in Montecito where she had been trapped for hours.

Survivors have described how they saw the mudslide approaching them, knocking down trees like dominoes.

The wall of mud was a mixture of soil, boulders and debris and it took a matter of seconds to reach them. It came down the mountainside, bulldozing their cars, homes and anything else that stood in its path.

The mudslides were triggered by torrential downpours that unleashed rain on the region, which was hit by last month's mammoth Thomas Fire - the largest wildfire ever recorded in California. 

The fire had left parts of the landscape denuded and therefore at greater risk of landslides.

Fires clear leaves and decomposing plant debris which would normally soak up the rainwater, and can also change the composition of the soil, making it repel water.

This encourages the water to pool on top of the landscape and quickly run downhill.

According to the US Geological Survey, a storm that strikes a fire-scarred area only needs a rainfall intensity of about 10 millimetres per hour to pose the risk of producing debris flows.

Tuesday's thunderstorms brought downpours of 13 millimetres in just five minutes in Montecito and 21 mm in 15 minutes in Carpenteria, according to the US National Weather Service.

Before the storm there were widespread evacuations in and near the mammoth Thomas Fire burn scar.

Some areas had been placed under mandatory evacuation orders, but not the hardest-hit parts of Montecito

The heaviest rains have now cleared away from the burn area, and the weather will continue to dry up on Wednesday.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe via RSS or Email:

Wildfires deadliest on record in Ca...

Read More

California wildfires death toll at ...

Read More

California wildfires: Death toll ri...

Read More

Raging California wildfires kill 9,...

Read More

Brazil landslide: At least 10 dead ...

Read More

Florida orders recount in contentio...

Read More

Most Read Articles

Most Read News

Donation

Thanks to all of our supporters for your generosity and your encouragement of an independent press!

Enter Amount:

Featured_Author

Login






Login reminder Forgot login?

Subscribe to MWC News Alert

Email Address

Subscribe in a reader Facebok page Twitter page

Israel pounds Gaza

India's Kerala state devastated

Capturing life under apartheid