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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Break in Storms Allows Malibuites to Put Their Ark-Building 0n Hold

• Record-Breaking Rainfall Saturates Ground and Hillsides

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


A series of storms propelled by the Pineapple Express—the tropical air stream originating near Hawaii—have battered California with record amounts of rain over the past week. In Malibu, as much as 12 inches of rain have fallen in some parts of the community, filling creeks and streams and saturating hillsides.
Rain-soaked and unstable cliffs caused several rockslides on Pacific Coast Highway west of Malibu on Saturday, flooding the highway with mud and rocks and raising concerns that large boulders, some reportedly the size of SUVs, could fall onto the highway. Approximately nine miles of Pacific Coast Highway remains closed between Las Posas Road at Point Mugu Naval Air Weapons Station and Yerba Buena Road at County Line.
Although Caltrans is calling the road closure a “precautionary” measure, geologists at the scene have reported hearing the stones “groaning and creaking.”
Caltrans officials report that the agency plans to wait until the current series of storms abates before sending geologists in for a closure re-evaluation.
Motorists are being asked to detour around the nine-mile stretch of PCH using Kanan Dume Road, or one of the other canyon roads, and the 101 Freeway through Thousand Oaks and Camarillo.
Smaller rock and mudslides continue to pose a hazard to drivers. A rockslide in the Big Rock area of PCH reportedly sliced the tires on six vehicles over the weekend. Rocks, mud and flooding were also reported on PCH between Corral and Latigo canyons on Sunday night.
A slide on Malibu Canyon at the start of the current storm cycle and several small slides on Kanan Dume Road over the weekend have reportedly caused lane closures but were swiftly cleared by state and county crews working overtime. Mud, rocks and flooding will continue to be hazards on PCH and all of Malibu’s mountain roads.
Longtime Malibuites know that the danger of slippage can continue to occur even after the rain is over, as rainwater continues to seep into the earth.
Broad Beach residents may be dismayed to see new sand loss and beach erosion, but relatively little storm-related beachfront damage has been reported so far in the City of Malibu.
NOAA is forecasting heavy rains through Wednesday night, after The News goes to press, with the potential for continued storm activity throughout the holiday weekend into next week. Small stream flood watch and high wind alerts will remain in effect, along with high surf advisory warnings and high rip current risk.

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