The Latest: All Interstate 5 lanes reopened after mudslide

AP News
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Posted: Oct 16, 2015 9:46 PM
The Latest: All Interstate 5 lanes reopened after mudslide

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The latest on mudslides that closed a California interstate (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

All lanes of Interstate 5 have been reopened, about 24 hours after the major north-south artery linking Los Angeles and Central California was blocked by a mudslide.

A spokeswoman with the California Highway Patrol says all lanes were cleared shortly after 6 p.m. Friday. Two southbound lanes and the northbound ones were reopened earlier in the day.

A storm system that drenched northern Los Angeles County Thursday sent mud and debris onto the roadway, trapping hundreds of drivers. Highway crews worked overnight and throughout Friday to free vehicles and clear the roadway.

To the west, State Road 58 is expected to remain closed for days.

5:55 p.m.

A fresh round of flash flooding stranded dozens of vehicles on a highway in Central California, but the troubles appear to be only temporary.

Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Dave Zaniboni said the Friday afternoon flooding affected Highway 166 west of Cuyama. That's a remote, sparsely populated community about 50 miles north of Santa Barbara.

Zaniboni says about 100 vehicles, including a school bus, were stuck on the roadway at one time but that traffic began moving by Friday evening.

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4:25 p.m.

Two southbound lanes of Interstate 5 have reopened after mud trapped hundreds of cars on the major artery north of Los Angeles on Thursday.

The lanes reopened just after 4 p.m. Friday, while the northbound lanes of the highway opened earlier in the day. The freeway was closed Thursday in the wake of heavy storms.

Highway crews worked throughout Friday to plow away mud and debris from the freeway, and free trapped cars.

Caltrans spokeswoman Tami Conrado says crews will remain at the scene and are ready in case more storms forecast Friday cause problems.

Meanwhile, State Route 58 is expected to remain closed for days after the same storm system caused flash-flooding and dangerous mud flows, trapping about 200 cars there in mud as deep as 6 feet.

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2:15 p.m.

Two California lawmakers are urging federal officials to prepare for potentially devastating floods in the wake of a powerful thunderstorm that trapped hundreds of drivers in mud on two major highways and in a small mountain town.

In a Friday letter, Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer warned of the El Nino phenomenon that experts say has formed in the Pacific Ocean.

They say the El Nino, compounded by the drought and a violent wildfire season, will increase the risk of flooding and mudslides.

They asked to hear about what steps have been taken to prepare, saying they "hope that preparation and mitigation efforts are underway."

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1:30 p.m.

The northbound lanes of Interstate 5 have reopened after mud trapped hundreds of cars on the major artery north of Los Angeles on Thursday.

California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Phillips says the northbound side of the interstate reopened early Friday afternoon. Authorities hope to open the southbound lanes by 5 p.m.

Highway crews worked to plow away mud and debris from the freeway, and free trapped cars.

Caltrans spokeswoman Tami Conrado says crews will remain at the scene and are ready in case more storms forecast Friday cause problems.

Meanwhile, State Route 58 is expected to remain closed for days after the same storm system caused flash-flooding and dangerous mud flows, trapping about 200 cars there in mud as deep as 6 feet.

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11:30 a.m.

Rescuers threw ladders and tarps across mud up to 6 feet deep to help hundreds of trapped people from cars that got caught in flash-flooding and a mudslide along a major Southern California trucking route.

Sgt. Mario Lopez with the California Highway Patrol on Friday described the chaotic scene overnight on State Route 58. No injuries or deaths were reported.

Lopez says those rescued, including two tour buses full of people, have been taken to three Red Cross shelters set up in the wake of Thursday's thunderstorms. The storms unleashed flash flood and debris flows along two major highways and in two tiny mountainside communities.

Lopez says it will take days to reopen State Route 58, a mile of which is choked with mud between 2 and 6 feet deep. Hundreds of semis were backed up for miles Friday because of the closure.

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8:20 a.m.

Hundreds of cars and trucks are still stuck in mud from flash floods on State Route 58 in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles.

It's one of several scenes of massive mud flows unleashed by powerful thunderstorms in Southern California's mountains and deserts Thursday afternoon.

California Highway Patrol Lt. Sven Miller says 115 cars and 75 trucks are stuck on the highway between the towns of Mojave and Tehachapi.

Hundreds more trucks are backing up Friday morning.

Nearby Interstate 5 remains closed in Tejon (teh-HOHN') Pass as highway crews plow away mud and debris that blocked the major north-south artery between Los Angeles and the Central Valley.

More thunderstorms are possible Friday afternoon and evening.

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5:15 a.m.

California police say they expect a mud-covered interstate to reopen to traffic Friday afternoon.

Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles was closed Thursday after flash flood debris blocked the roadway, stranded hundreds of vehicles and forced some motorists to take refuge on top of their cars.

Excavator trucks scooped and hauled away mud in the darkness Thursday night with the cleanup continuing into Friday morning. The closure has left thousands of drivers searching for alternative routes.

California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi says officials now expect the important highway to reopen around 2 p.m.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries from the flooding Thursday at Fort Tejon, about 75 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. The slide was caused by a storm system that produced heavy rainfall across the region.