Several killed in Southern California flooding; highway closures in place

January 11, 2018

Tyson Fisher


Only one week into 2018 and already extreme weather has claimed lives, destroyed structures and shut down major highways. Flooding in Santa Barbara County in California has left Montecito and surrounding areas unstable as mudslides and water/debris flow have caused widespread damage.

What is technically a winter storm began at around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. Massive amounts of rain in a small time frame resulted in major flooding and mudslides in areas north of and adjacent to the 101 Freeway near Montecito.

Flooding in Southern California has killed 17 people, injured 28 and eight remain missing as of 7 a.m. local time on Thursday. Approximately 65 homes have been destroyed, more than 400 damaged and 1,500 homes are still under threat, according to Santa Barbara County officials. Nearly 700 personnel are involved with rescue efforts.

Heavy rain poured down on areas affected my major wildfires that spread in early December. Land burned by the Thomas Fire was hit by large amounts of rain, causing significant mudslides.

Caltrans reports several road closures:

  • US 101 closed between SR 126 in Ventura and Milpas Street in Santa Barbara;
  • SR192 in multiple locations;
  • SR27 (Topanga Canyon Road) is closed from SR1 (Pacific Coast Highway) and Grandview in Topanga (Los Angeles County) due to a slide;
  • SR33 is closed north of Ojai between Fairview and Lockwood Valley roads due to a slide;
  • SR150 is closed at Santa Ana Road in Casitas Pass, west of Ojai;
  • SR2 is closed at SR39 for 10 miles east of that point through Wrightwood due to a rock slide;
  • I-405 two right lanes, northbound are closed due to slide; and
  • Localized flooding of lanes and accidents related to the rain.

Active road closures as of 11 a.m. local time on Thursday, Jan. 11

Officials are saying it could be days before roads are reopened and areas accessed for rescue efforts as the environment is still unstable. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has declared a Public Safety Exclusion Zone in the areas west of Sheffield Drive/East Valley Road/Ladera Lane, east of Olive Mill/Hot Springs Road, north of the ocean and south of the U.S. Forest Service boundary. Only rescuers are allowed in those areas.

District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley issued a statement warning anyone who “encumbers the continuing rescue efforts by unnecessarily entering the affected areas will be cited for violating PC Section 409.5 and will face a maximum of six months in county jail and a fine of $1,000.”

Residents north of Highway 192, east of Cold Springs Road and west of Highway 150/County Line are under mandatory evacuation orders. Areas south of Highway 192 to the ocean and east of Hot Springs Road/Olive Mill Road to Highway 150/County Line have been issued an evacuation warning.

An emergency ferry boat service is available until Monday, Jan. 15, from Sea Landing at Santa Barbara Harbor to Ventura with Condor Express. People needing the service can call 805-963-3564. A round trip will cost $32.