The Cambrian

Falling rocks, mudslides close Hwy. 1; more storms expected this weekend

Watch Caltrans crews work to clear mud from Highway 1

CaltransD7 crews clearing mud on PCH this morning. The highway remains closed today due to several slides.
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CaltransD7 crews clearing mud on PCH this morning. The highway remains closed today due to several slides.

Highway 1 has been an open, shut and quickly reopened case recently, due to falling rocks and debris that slid off the mountainsides during heavy rainfall.

More storms are in the North Coast’s future, according to forecasters.

After rocks fell on the highway near Salmon Creek and south of Big Sur on Sunday, Jan. 6, Caltrans closed the scenic roadway from Ragged Point to Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn.

Quick work by road crews allowed the agency to reopen the road at 10 a.m. Monday, but all eyes remain laser-focused on the rain-soaked hillsides, especially with more precipitation in this week’s forecast.

Other closures could happen anytime rocks fall or there seems to be a public-safety threat, and the new Caltrans preemptive-closure policy means that whenever there’s a severe enough weather forecast, the state road agency could lock the gates at Paul’s Slide and/or Mud Creek (respectively 21.6 and 8.9 miles north of the San Luis Obispo/Monterey county line).

Those were among the Highway 1 areas between Cambria and Carmel where catastrophic slides in 2016 and 2017 required extensive repairs that kept the highway closed to through traffic for about 18 months.

According to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey, rain totals for the Saturday and Sunday storms were 1.6 inches at the county’s Santa Rosa Creek/Main Street gauge, 3.92 inches on the Walter Ranch on upper Santa Rosa Creek Road and 5.12 inches on Rocky Butte, northeast of San Simeon.

Forecast

As of Tuesday afternoon, Lindsey’s latest forecast called for: Rain showers and winds that night; moderate to heavy rain and winds up to 38 mph on Wednesday (rain accumulation of up to 1.25 inches); and another storm Friday through Sunday that could bring up to 2.5 inches of rain.

So, batten down.

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