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Mudflows shut down PCH in Malibu and Highway 101 in Montecito as new storm lashes Southern California

Sarah Parvini, Angel Jennings and Ben Poston, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

LOS ANGELES -- A powerful winter storm pounded Southern California on Saturday, triggering mudflows that shut down Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County and left residents throughout the region bracing for flash flooding in areas made vulnerable by last year's furious wildfires.

Pacific Coast Highway was closed in both directions near Yerba Buena Road late Saturday morning because of a mudslide that covered a portion of the northbound lanes, officials said. No homes were affected and road crews were busy clearing the mud.

The storm, the second in a series forecast to strike the area, moved into Santa Barbara County early Saturday with intense bursts of rain and wind that topped 80 mph. Flash-flood warnings were issued for some areas burned in the massive 2017 Thomas fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and several neighborhoods were under evacuation orders.

Highway 101 was closed between Sheffield Drive and San Ysidro Road in Montecito because of mudflows caused by flooding around Romero and San Ysidro creeks, authorities said.

Meanwhile, a Ventura County sheriff's search-and-rescue team member was killed and three other team members were injured in a crash on rain-slicked Interstate 5 near Gorman in northern Los Angeles County, officials said. The group was on its way to Mount Pinos for a training exercise when they saw a crash on the freeway and stopped to help.

"While they were assisting people, a vehicle plowed into the scene," Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Buschow said.

At least six other people were hurt and taken to hospitals.

Amtrak also reported a delay for Pacific Surfliner trains north of Ventura because of storm debris on the tracks. Union Pacific officials were inspecting the scene.

In the Los Angeles region, the rain was becoming more intense as the day progressed.

"We are expecting rain to continue with this storm through Tuesday," Lisa Phillips, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said around midday. "The really heavy, intense rains have passed through Santa Barbara already and are getting into the Los Angeles area now."

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