Pacific Coast Highway – 2017 Mudslide

On Saturday night, May 20, 2017 the “Mother of all mudslides” in California history occurred. An estimated 1 million tons of dirt, rock and debris fell on a section of the Pacific Coast Highway. Fortunately that portion of the road was already closed as a result of some minor mud and rockslides, and it occurred at night, so there were no known fatalities.

Here are Before and After pictures I found online.

Here’s what it would have looked like on that Saturday morning:

Madonna_001

(Photo credit: John Madonna)

And here’s what it would have looked like when the sun rose Sunday morning, May 21:

John_Madonna_002

(Photo credit: John Madonna)

You can see a road winding down the hill on the right side of the photo so you can visualize how small cars and people would be.

The road is still closed, and as I approached the area from the south many big trucks carrying rock being used to rebuilt the roadway were going in full and coming out empty. I heard on the radio that because of favorable conditions this spring they are hoping to reopen the roadway by the end of July, two months ahead of schedule.

As I traveled up and down the PCH I saw heavy equipment (road graders, dump trucks with plows on the front, excavators and road sweepers) positioned in various places to be immediately available to clean up minor, manageable slides which occur from time to time. The PCH is a popular destination and is a big moneymaker for the tourism industry, so the state realizes how important it is to try and keep it open. We have a similar situation in North Carolina with Highway 12 along our coast which is damaged or destroyed by just about every Atlantic hurricane which gets close to the state.

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