A 9-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu was closed Thursday night and into Friday as a strong winter storm settles over Southern California, according to the California Highway Patrol.
This week’s second storm – a respite for the drought-stricken region – is expected to pack a stronger punch than a quick-moving cell that brought a splash of rain on Wednesday.
Anticipated rock- and mudslides caused by heavy rain prompted CHP to close the iconic coastal roadway between Yerba Buena and Las Posas roads. Hillsides above that portion of PCH burned in last year’s Springs Fire, which scorched 24,000 acres of land near Camarillo Springs, Newbury Park and Cal State Channel Islands.
The closure was extended early Friday morning as small rocks tumbled down the hillside. Electronic billboards warned drivers to avoid PCH, but the road reopened at mid-day.
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A spokeswoman for CHP told NBC4 damage from the fire was so severe, officials "expect the mountain to come down."
Only residents with proof of identification will be allowed into the closed area.
Meteorologists have posted flood watches for many other areas denuded by fires over the past two years, including the foothills in Glendora scorched by the Colby Fire. The National Weather Service warned of possible rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour as well as waterspouts offshore and small tornados when the next storm moves through the state Friday.
As many as 5 inches of rain could fall in some areas, and up to 3 feet of snow may blanket areas above 6,000 feet, NBC4 meteorologist Byron Miranda said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.