Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Heavy Rain Could Trigger Mudslides in Fire-Weary California

Climate
Map of damage to the town of Paradise from the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history. NASA / JPL-Caltech

Northern California, which is already reeling from the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, is now bracing for heavy rainfall this week.

The forecasted rain could bring much-needed relief for the firefighters battling the Camp Fire in Butte County. However, it could also bring new hazards due to possible ash, mud and debris flows triggered by the rain.


The Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, has burned more than 150,000 acres and killed 79 people, according to Cal Fire. Nearly 1,000 people remain missing, Reuters reported.

Up to 4 inches of rain this week could help beat back the inferno, which is currently 70 percent contained. But the weather forecast has brought extra stress to wildfire-weary residents.

Some evacuees are camping out in tents or their cars. Cady Machado told KTXL-TV she is staying in a tent at a Walmart parking lot with her husband and baby. With the incoming rain, Machado said she will send her child to her sister's home in Arizona.

She and her husband, however, have other plans. "There's a nice bridge with my name on it to go underneath where I won't get flooded out with my husband," she said.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch from Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning for the Camp Fire, the Carr, Delta and Hirz wildfires in Shasta County and the Mendocino Complex in Lake County burn areas in Northern California.

"Properties impacted by the wildfires, and downstream of those areas, are at risk for flash flooding, mudflows and debris flows during periods of intense rainfall," Butte County announced Monday. "Wildfires can alter the terrain and soil conditions reducing the capacity for the ground to absorb water creating conditions for these type of hazards. In addition, creeks and streams within burned watersheds have elevated risk of flooding, mud, and debris flows due to increased rain runoff and potential for sediment to fill channels and block culverts."

Multiple state, regional and local agencies are preparing for the potential impacts of storm weather. "The mutual goal of this effort is to protect human life and critical infrastructure (bridges, roads, culverts, and flood protection facilities), wildlife and the natural environment including streams and waterways," the county said.

Last year, at least 21 people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged during a mudslide that followed the massive Thomas Fire in Southern California.

The flames not only scorched away grass, shrubs and other vegetation that hold soil in place, but they also baked a waxy layer into the earth that prevented the rains from being absorbed into the ground, Reuters explained then.

Relief organizations such as Red Cross have opened additional shelters for people and pets in preparation for the inclement weather in Northern California, CNN reported.

"We want to make sure those people who are staying in tents know that these spaces are available for them so they can get out of the elements," said Shawn Boyd with California's Office of Emergency Services.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less