Rain, high tides and boulders continue to cause havoc

Safety specialists caution and remind hikers of weather conditions after and before a rainstorm occurs 

Safety officials continue to caution motorists to take precautions while driving along Pacific Coast Highway and canyons while mudslides and falling rocks can still occur after a rainy day.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, a boulder tumbled down and blocked both sides of Malibu Canyon, causing road closure while Caltrans worked to clear it from the road. California Highway Patrol was on scene, signaling vehicles to turn around and use Kanan Road. Topanga Canyon was also closed due to flooding in locations along the boulevard. 

The same day, a boulder crashed on a Toyota Prius and damaged another nearby vehicle. Resident Mauricio Henao said he stepped out of his car after getting a call from his girlfriend to return to his home and heard loud crashes just moments after. Henao witnessed the rockslide come tumbling down the hillside and onto his car — only minutes before he would have been sitting inside. 

On Saturday, Jan. 14, a boulder slid down and blocked northbound Kanan Dume Road at 6 p.m. and closed Cavalleri Road for a few hours. LA County Road Maintenance crews cleared the rock and debris from the road shoulder by 10 p.m. Motorists were urged to drive safely and with caution in work zones.

Malibu Volunteers on Patrol responded to several storm-related traffic collisions and rockslide calls. Just after midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 3, Malibu/Lost Hills Deputies, VOPs and units from the California Highway Patrol responded to a major rockslide blocking all traffic lanes on Malibu Canyon Road. Malibu VOPs and CHP maintained the road closure when the rockslide was finally cleared and the canyon was safe to reopen.

California State Parks and allied agencies have been responding to the winter storms emergencies, clearing the debris and supporting response efforts in the State Operations Center.

The National Weather Service expected large breaking waves of 6 to 10 feet with local sets to 12 feet subsiding to 6 to 9 feet over the weekend. 

Officials recommend staying out of the water due to a high increased risk of ocean drowning. Rip currents can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea. Waves can wash people off beaches and rocks, and capsize small boats nearshore. Officials say to stay near occupied lifeguard towers. 

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Search and Rescue Team are cautioning and reminding hikers of weather conditions after and before a rainstorm occurs. 

“The Sheriff’s Department would like to remind you to be very careful if you’re considering hiking during the rain or shortly after a rainstorm,” Deputy Doug Cramoline said. “Hiking before a storm can be hazardous because incoming rain can render stream crossings, since you’ve got to cross, impassable when you return to your vehicle.” 

The search and rescue teams of the LA County Sheriff’s Department perform these types of operations:

  • Extrication and evacuation of victims from cars which have gone over the side of mountain roads 
  • Recovery and evacuation of fallen rock climbers; search for lost hikers or skiers
  • Evacuation of injured hikers, climbers and hunters; and location of downed aircraft
  • Rescues from mines, tunnels or underground utility vaults
  • Urban disasters including collapsed buildings and rescues from damaged structures
  • Swiftwater rescue during times of flooding, and body recoveries.

“Even after a storm you should be very careful about hiking, rivers continue to rise, streams continue to rise even after the rain has stopped,” Cramoline continues. “You can still slip and fall and be swept away, so even after it rains, be sure to be very careful with your decision making.” 

“It is imperative that the public is aware of this dangerous condition our hiking trails and outdoor recreational sites will be under this weekend,” the post says. “Please refrain from hiking while the storms are active.”

While there was no significant damage in Malibu, parts of the Seal Beach Pier, one of the longest wooden piers in the state of California, was damaged as high surf and a powerful storm destroyed the pier. The pier has been closed for repairs. 

Preparation is your best defense against flood danger. Know your property’s risk factors. Clear drainage paths. Use sandbags to direct runoff and protect structures.

Call 1-800-675-HELP (4357) to report storm-related damage, traffic signal outages, flooding or other concerns.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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