Officer Killed in Freeway Crash, Boulders Washed onto Highways as California Storms Intensify

The Weather Channel

As the first of two storm systems hit California on Saturday, power was knocked out for tens of thousands, evacuation orders were issued and heavy rain, snow and high winds made driving treacherous.

A Ventura County search-and-rescue team member died in a crash about 7:30 Saturday morning on northbound Interstate 5, ABC 7 reported. Two other team members were injured, one of them critically and the other had minor injuries. Seven other people were involved in the crash that occurred near Pyramid Lake during a heavy rainstorm. Their conditions were unavailable.

The California Highway Patrol reported rain had caused a debris flow that washed boulders and rocks onto northbound Interstate 5 near Grapevine. Mudflows and water also closed all of U.S. 101 from Milpas Street in Santa Barbara to Sheffield Drive in Montecito. A rock slide and debris closed State Road 1 between Gaviota and Lompoc. State Road 135 from Santa Maria to Los Alamos was closed because of water in low lying areas.

The Pacific Coast Highway was closed from Las Posas Road to Broad Beach because of mudslides from burn scars.

Brown muddy water raged down a neighborhood street in Malibu, dragging boulders and tree limbs with it, ABC 7 reported. Video showed the water was about 4 or 5 feet deep.

Midday Saturday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department issued mandatory evacuations for the Malibu West neighborhood, the Paseo Canyon area and Agoura Hills.

Almost 40,000 customers were without electricity as of 12:30 p.m. local time Saturday, reported. Several areas were reporting large tree limbs were down.

Trees and power lines fell overnight on Bohemian Highway in Sonoma County, knocking out power to about 500 people, KPIX reported. The Monte Rio Fire Department cut up one of the trees blocking the road to allow emergency vehicles to get through. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office also reported trees and power lines down on several roadways.

Wind gusts up to 83 mph were measured in the seaside town of Gaviata, California, in Santa Barbara County, the National Weather Service said.

(MORE: Strongest Storm of the Season to Hammer California)

The California Highway Patrol said blowing dust on State Road 99 south of Bakersfield had reduced visibility to about a half mile.

Some flights were being canceled, including 69 into and out of San Francisco, 14 in Los Angeles and 11 in San Diego, according to

The San Francisco Chronicle reported a number of Bay Area highways flooded, including Interstate 680 in Dublin and Interstate 280 in San Jose.

Chains were required for vehicles traveling through the Sierra Nevada region, CalTrans tweeted. The transportation agency closed westbound Interstate 80 for about an hour around noon at the Nevada state line and eastbound at Drum because of accidents and spinouts.

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