A stretch of the 101 Freeway is expected to be remained closed in Montecito until Thursday after a powerful storm inundated the heavily-traveled roadway with water, mud and debris, Caltrans announced Tuesday.
Heavy rain from the first-significant storm of the season wreaked havoc on area roadways, creating a traffic nightmare for commuters across Southern California on Tuesday morning.
Until further notice, the 101 is closed southbound at Milpas Street in Santa Barbara and northbound at State Route 150, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Officials initially closed the northbound 101 at State Route in 126, just south of Santa Barbara, shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday, CHP tweeted. The southbound side of the freeway was also shut down just south of Santa Barbara because as flooding, debris flow and a possible gas leak were reported, according to officials.
The 101 is the major road connecting Santa Barbara County to Ventura County and, by extension, the greater Los Angeles area.
With the highway expected to be fully shut down for at least two days, officials were urging motorists to get around the stretch by taking Interstate 5 over the Grapevine as a detour.
In addition to the 101, the 5 Freeway near Los Feliz Boulevard was closed for most of the day due to a jackknifed big rig, while a down tree prompted several lanes to be temporarily shut down on the westbound 91 Freeway at the 710 Freeway in Long Beach.
A portion of State Route 33 north of Ojai has also been closed between Fairview and Lockwood Valley roads because of mudslides, according to Caltrans. It was unclear when the highway would reopen.
The flooding and closures come amid the arrival of a powerful storm over Southern California.
US 101 northbound & southbound CLOSED for flooding and debris flows in the #ThomasFire burn area (north of Ventura & south of Santa Barbara). I-5 is alternate route. SR-33 is closed just north of Ojai. AVOID AREA. @CHP_Ventura @CHP_SantaBarb @CaltransDist7 @VENTURASHERIFF pic.twitter.com/t7GjRrxY3b
— CHP Moorpark (@CHPMoorpark) January 9, 2018