Mandatory evacuations are in effect in the Woolsey Fire burn areas and other parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties following recent wildfires amid concerns over mudslides as the most significant storm of the year began drenching Southern California Wednesday afternoon.
Tuesday’s storm did not create the debris flows officials had feared, but this week’s third storm — possibly the most powerful of the series — triggered rockslides and pushed mud into some roads after it moved into the region Wednesday.
By 8 p.m., it had dumped more than 1 inch of rain throughout Los Angeles County, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The rainfall was expected to continue through Thursday.
As heavier rain began to fall in the afternoon, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department warned that the latest round of wet weather posed "a high risk for mud and debris flow" to the Woolsey Fire burn area.
Around 6:20 p.m., NWS issued flood advisories in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, including in the burn areas of the Woolsey and Hill fires. Residents where evacuations are in effect are urged to heed the order.
Officials also warned of rockslides and flooding causing dangerous driving conditions.
A stretch of Malibu Canyon Road between Piuma Road and Civic Center Way was closed after a series of rockslides and would remain shut down through Thursday morning, according to sheriff's officials.
One driver was struck by a tumbling boulder and taken to a nearby hospital, where she complained of pain, officials said.
Crews were working to clear the mud and debris, and it was unknown when the road would reopen.
Evacuations in Woolsey Fire Burn Area
About 300 homes within the Woolsey Fire burn area are evacuated and those still under mandatory orders Wednesday morning included the following areas:
• Corral Canyon / El Nido
• Escondido / Old Chimney
• Escondido / Latigo Canyon
• Malibu West / Trancas Canyon
• Malibu Park / Bonsall
• Malibou Lake
• All of Ramirez Canyon Road and adjacent streets
• Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park & Restaurant
With no rain falling in Malibu early Wednesday, excavation crews took the opportunity to clear out storm drains in the Ramirez Canyon Creek area overnight.
“If it all builds up and pushes down … that’s how you get your mud slides," Tom Romero with Badger Daylight Excavation said.
All four Malibu schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will be closed again Wednesday, according to the city’s website. All Santa Monica schools were expected to remain open.
There are currently two evacuation centers set up, including:
• Santa Monica High School-South Gym, located at 601 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica
• Agoura Hills / Calabasas Community Center, located at 27040 Malibu Hills Road in Agoura
The latest information can be found at www.lacounty.gov/LARain.
Evacuations in Ventura County
The following areas in Ventura County were also under mandatory evacuation orders as of Tuesday night:
• South Coast of Ventura County (Deer Creek/Yerba Buena)
• Matilija / Wheeler Springs / North fork (extending along Oso Road)
Voluntary evacuations are also in place for the following areas:
- Bell Canyon (entire community)
- Oak Park (specific homes adjacent to the hillsides)
- Residences east of Hwy 33 / Casitas Springs (Vista Burn area)
- Ventura City – (The voluntary evacuations were lifted at midnight on Tuesday and will be re-instated effective Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.)
- La Conchita
An evacuation center has been set up at:
- East Ojai Calabasas/Agoura Community Center, located at 27040 Malibu Hills Rd. in Calabasas
The latest information can be found on the Ventura County Emergency Information page.
Storm Expected to Bring Significant Rainfall
Wednesday’s storm was expected to tap into some subtropical moisture and bring significant rainfall to the region before departing Thursday.
The heavier showers are expected to arrive in Los Angeles County later in the afternoon or evening, according to the Weather Service.
The system was expected to bring 1.5 to 3 inches of rain to most areas from southern Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles County. Some mountain areas could get as much as 4 inches of rain.
Rainfall rates of about .5 of an inch per hour could develop over the burn areas, according to forecasters. Thunderstorms are not expected with this system.
The showers are forecast to come to an end sometime Thursday afternoon, with partly cloudy skies returning by Friday.