Severe flooding in northern California over the weekend triggered a series of mudslides close to burn scars from last year’s Dixie Fire, closing a nearly 50-mile stretch of Highway 70 in Butte and Plumas.
Photographs show a portion of the highway covered by mud and debris, with state officials unable as of Monday to give a timeline for when the closed portion of the highway might reopen. Search and Rescue teams were called in to assist people stranded in vehicles, reaching several people in Plumas County and transporting them to nearby Quincy.
Thunderstorms struck northern California on Sunday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning due to the mudslide risk near the site of the burn scars. The Dixie Fire devastated a number of nearby counties in the region last year that began in July and was not fully contained until October. In total, the fire burned some 963,000 acres and lowered air quality as far east as Utah and Colorado.
California as a whole has been ravaged by wildfires in recent years, with fire season in the state and throughout the American West intensifying with the onset of extreme climate change and altering the landscape of the state and region.
A portion of Highway 70, which begins north of the state capital of Sacramento and ends at Hallelujah Junction next to the Nevada border, also had to be closed due to mudslides last year due to heavy precipitation.
Though the Pacific Northwest has enjoyed an unusually cool and rainy spring thus far, California as a whole is bracing for another dangerous fire season with the southern part of the state mired in severe drought.
BUTTE COUNTY- Hwy 70 in the Feather River Canyon is shut down due to mudslides. No ETO. @NWSSacramento says rain gages reported 1.25-1.6” of rain in a brief period across portions of the Dixie Fire burn scar yesterday. pic.twitter.com/3jFuhlLMfb
— Melanie Hunter (@MelanieHunterTV) June 13, 2022
Travellers who would normally drive on Highway 70 can access Highway 32, the main alternative route, which remains open.