California Storms Shut Major Highways, Imperil Motorists

Blue flasher on the police car at night.

February 5, 2019

Ellis Law Corporation


February came in like a lion in southern California, with rain and snow at higher elevations causing treacherous conditions on the roads. Precipitation also led to mudslides that closed roads and caused authorities to mandate evacuations. Schools were closed throughout the region. As many as 40,000 people were without power over the weekend.

One Killed, One Critically Injured on I-5

Multiple accidents caused injuries and deaths in southern California. Early on February 2, a member of a search-and-rescue team from Ventura County was killed in a northbound lane of Interstate 5 near Gorman in the midst of heavy rain. They were on their way to training, saw a collision, and stopped to offer assistance, at which point another vehicle hit them. The victim was Jeff Dye, who volunteered with the Fillmore Mountain Search and Rescue Team. One other team member was critically injured, and another sustained minor injuries.

Debris and Mud Slides Imperil Motorists, Homeowners

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) indicated that rain had caused a debris slide near Grapevine, sending rocks and boulders onto the northbound lanes of Interstate 5. In Montecito, mudslides and water caused a stretch of U.S. 101 to be closed. Water along State Road 135 caused portion of the road to be closed.

Parts of the Pacific Coast Highway were closed due to mudslides. A flash flood full of debris was reported in Malibu; news stories estimated the water at 4 to 5 feet. Part of Malibu West, Paseo Canyon, and Agoura Hills were under mandatory evacuation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Although forecasts were calling for milder weather later in the week, the fact remains that the fires throughout California have created conditions in which precipitation can cause mud and debris slides that imperil everyone. They can plunge onto roadways and cause major vehicle accidents. They pose dangers to home and business owners as well.

Southern Californians are also facing weather that makes roadways dangerous, such as heavy rain, extreme winds, and snow. On top of that, we do not always have experience driving in this kind of weather.

Make sure you are driving safely, no matter what the weather. Drive under the speed limit if visibility is poor or water or snow is on the road. Make sure that your windshield wipers are in good condition. It’s becoming very clear that the aftereffects of the California fires may be with Californians a long time. And, in 2019 so far, weather has been throwing curve balls that have exacerbated those effects.

If You Need a Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles

Have you been in a car or other vehicle accident as a result of the storms and fire damage? If you need a car accident lawyer, the Ellis Law Firm can help. We have spent more than 20 years investigating and litigating all types of accidents and collisions throughout Southern California. Please call 310-641-3335 today for a free appointment to get our advice on your situation.

Additional Resources:

1. Brackett, Ron. “Second Northwest Winter Storm Shuts Roads and Schools From California to Washington.” The Weather Channel. February 3, 2019.

2. Parvini, Sarah and Ben Poston, Angel Jennings, and Teresa Watanabe. “Storm that pounded Southern California on Saturday will ease up the next few days, forecasters say.” Los Angeles Times. February 2, 2018.