California mudslides: At least 13 killed, thousands evacuated

California mudslides: At least 13 killed, thousands evacuated

"It's going to be worse than anyone imagined for our area", Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason told the Times.

A winter weather advisory is in place for mountain areas, where officials warned motorists to prepare for hard travel conditions, including gusty winds, low visibility and snow-covered roads.

Heavy rains pounding Southern California for a second day are causing floods and loosening hillsides as officials in fire-ravaged communities warn people to stay off roads over fears of mud and debris flows.

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial view from a Ventura County Sheriff helicopter shows a site damaged by mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. January 9, 2018. Looking for missing persons. In one instance, a 14-year-old girl was saved from a "tangled mess of a house" by firefighters.

Tens of thousands of residents in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are now being forced to evacuate just weeks after the Thomas Fire forced them to do the same.

Some undamaged businesses closed as they lacked water, gas and other supplies to operate.

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A county statement Wednesday says an additional 300 homes were damaged. "We are quite lucky".

Winfrey posted video of herself wading through mud in her backyard to Instagram on Tuesday, although her home survived. Montecito got more than a half-inch in five minutes, while Carpinteria received 0.86 inches in 15 minutes. Powerful mudslides destroyed homes in the area on Tuesday as rescue crews rushed to search the rubble and mud, which was reported to be 5 feet deep in places.

The number of fatalities surpassed the death toll from a California mudslide on January 10, 2005, when 10 people were killed as a hillside gave way in the town of La Conchita, less than 20 miles (30 km) south of the latest disaster.

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The mudslides were triggered by torrential downpours that unleashed rain on the region, which was hit by last month's mammoth Thomas Fire - the largest wildfire ever recorded in California. The fires burned away grass and shrubs that held the soil in place and also baked a waxy layer into the earth that prevents water from sinking deeply into the ground.

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