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Mess Left By Mudslides In California Could Take Days To Clean Up

Vehicles are stuck on a road after being trapped by a mudslide on California Highway 58 in Mojave, Calif., on Friday.
Mark Ralston
AFP/Getty Images
Vehicles are stuck on a road after being trapped by a mudslide on California Highway 58 in Mojave, Calif., on Friday.

The mess left behind by mudslides in California could take days to clean up.

CBS News reports that strong thunderstorms caused massive mudslides that left vehicles on Highway 58 in up to 6 feet of mud. CBS reports:

"On Friday, rescuers and those stranded in the highway debris flow described a chaotic scene that somehow left no reported injuries or deaths.

"'It was terrifying,' 51-year-old Rhonda Flores of Bakersfield told The Associated Press. 'It was a raging river of mud. I've never experienced anything like it, ever.'

"Rescuers threw ladders and tarps across mud up to 6 feet deep to help the hundreds of trapped people from cars that got caught in the roiling river of mud along State Route 58 about 30 miles east of Bakersfield, a major trucking route, California Highway Patrol officials said."

The Los Angeles Times reports that one of the storms that caused mudslides in Antelope Valley is being described as a 1,000-year rain event, because it dropped 1.81 inches of rain in just 30 minutes.

The bad news, meteorologists tell the newspaper, is that it could be a sign of the kind of chaos El Niño could bring. The paper reports:

"The storm was not related to El Niño, the warm weather pattern that experts say is expected to produce heavy rain in California this winter.

"But John Dumas, a weather service meteorologist, said these storms offer a preview of what's to come.

"The last major El Niño to hit California, in the late 1990s, caused deadly flooding, mudslides and other problems. Across Southern California, officials are racing to clear debris basins and make other preparations so that the region's flood-control systems can combat the expected El Niño downpours."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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