MALIBU (CNS) - Multiple vehicles were stuck in the mud tonight on Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, where rain was causing debris flows.
As a result, PCH was closed in both directions from Encinal Canyon Road to west of the Los Angeles and Ventura County line at Las Posas Road, according to Malibu city officials.
Caltrans crews were helping clean up mud and debris covering the road, and authorities said that work would continue into Sunday morning.
Driving conditions were hazardous, with several reports of vehicles trapped in mudslides, as well as numerous fender benders on wet roads.
Two vehicles were trapped in the mud at about 7:30 p.m. at PCH and Mulholland Highway, just outside the Malibu city limits, the CHP reported.
At 7:06 p.m. the CHP reported vehicles were stuck in a mixture of water, mud and rocks on PCH north of Tonga Street, 2-3 miles north of the Los Angeles County line. One person told the CHP their van was stuck and they were walking in mud.
The roadway havoc was part of the first winter storm of 2019, which moved into the Southland Saturday night and was expected to last through Sunday. Public safety experts have been concerned that the forecasted half-inch to inch of rainfall across the Southern California coast and valleys -- and more than double that amount in higher elevations -- would increase the risk of flooding and mudslides on mountain slopes recently scorched by wildfires.
Residents in areas recently burned by wildfires -- where the soil does not absorb a lot of moisture and can be prone to hazardous mudflows that carry dirt, rocks and larger debris -- need to be prepared, experts warned.
Weather forecasts and warnings will not be interrupted by the ongoing federal government shutdown, NWS officials said. Updates will be provided on the agency's website and social media feeds. Los Angeles County residents also can find out more about storm preparation and safety tips at www.lacounty.gov/larain.