“Creeks that normally would be dry would turn into raging rivers of mud and debris and large rocks and trees,” Lewin said. “These can be quite damaging. They’ll destroy roads, they’ll take out homes.”
The weather service also issued a winter weather advisory for portions of the Sierra Nevada above 7,000 feet (2,134 meters), forecasting about 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 centimeters) of snow and up to 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 centimeters) on higher peaks Tuesday. It said travelers should prepare for difficult travel conditions, including gusty winds, low visibility and slick and snow-covered roads.
Rodriguez reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and John Antczak in Los Angeles also contributed to this report.
In Southern California, about 21,000 people were evacuated from neighborhoods beneath hillsides laid bare by the state’s largest wildfire and other recent blazes amid fears of flash floods and debris flows.
Robert Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, urged residents in parts of Summerland, Carpinteria and Montecito to leave by midday. The hillside communities were evacuated last month as the massive Thomas Fire raged. Evacuations also include homes near other burn areas dating to 2016.
In the foothills just northeast of Los Angeles, residents placed sandbags outside houses that survived a December fire that scorched more than 24 square (62 square kilometers) miles, destroyed 60 homes and damaged 55 others.
“Everything is soaking into the ground at this time, but if it gets very heavy, it could trigger a flash flood warning,” Anderson said.
A yearslong drought eased in California last spring, but Northern California had a dry start to winter and hardly any measurable rain fell in the south over the past six months. The extremely dry conditions and high winds last year led to some of the most destructive blazes on both ends of the state.