California Hillsides Are at Risk of Floods After Days of Downpours

By Michelle Ma | February 20, 2024

The latest in a series of robust storms is drenching California again with rain and snow, prompting officials to warn residents to stay on high alert for floods as weakened terrain gets further tested.

Some hillside communities — including affluent areas such as Montecito, Malibu and the Hollywood Hills — have seen as much as 8.5 inches (21.6 centimeters) of rain in the last three days, leaving the ground so saturated that hilly areas are in danger of flooding and rock slides.

“We’ve had so much rain this winter that the soils really can’t hold that much more water at this point,” said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Forecast Office of LA and Oxnard. “If you don’t have to travel, stay home.”

The weather system is expected to bring more rain through Wednesday, with flood watches in effect across the state, including Los Padres National Forest and San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. High surf advisories are in place for beaches along the Malibu and LA coast through Tuesday evening.

A cold front is expected to move in Tuesday night and bring scattered showers and thunderstorms to Southern California, the storm’s last hurrah before it is set to dissipate. The weather service is watching another potential storm starting this weekend that may bring additional rainfall.

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