21:49 GMT24 February 2021
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    California has long been plagued by droughts that have helped drive catastrophic wildfires, but a recent shift in weather patterns has brought new moisture to the state in the form of an “atmospheric river” air current.

    A huge mudslide has washed out the roadway on California’s scenic Highway 1, which rises high above the Pacific coastline, amid torrential rains.

    Drone footage taken by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and local news media shows a slurry of mud, trees and shrubs washed across the hillside above the highway, and then a huge hole in the road several dozen feet across where the cliff below it gave way under the mudslide’s pressure.

    ​According to the San Francisco Bay Chronicle, the washout is about 20 miles south of Big Sur in the town of Rat Creek close to the San Luis Obispo county line.

    Caltrans spokesperson Jim Shivers told the paper the incident was called a slip out: "It's where we lose a part of the highway and now we're facing a project to clean and repair that stretch. This is the only location we're aware of where this happened in the storm. Our maintenance team is patrolling the highway now to look for other damage."

    Caltrans could not immediately assess how long it would take to repair the damage.

    The region has been doused with heavy rains in recent days, thanks to a dramatic shift in weather patterns, with some sites in the nearby Santa Lucia Mountains registering between 15 and 17 inches of rain in the downpour, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Called an "atmospheric river," the offshore air current has channeled moisture in the Pacific coastal region that is soon expected to cause snowstorms across the continent.

    Being perched high atop a precipice, Highway 1 is prone to washouts, rockslides, and other mishaps. One section of road was closed for more than a year after a massive crash dubbed “the mother of all landslides” took out most of a mountainside in 2017.


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    Big Sur, Highway, California, landslide
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