Winter storm 12/13/2021

Heavy rain pooling on a Monterey street on the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 13, as rainfall continues to intensify. 

Monterey County officials have upgraded an evacuation warning to an evacuation order for areas along River Road just outside of Salinas after officials have determined the heavy rain brought on by the atmospheric river has created an immediate threat to life. The order is a lawful order to leave immediately. 

The order extends to Pine Canyon Road, Trimble Hill, Mesa Road, Manzanita Way, Wildwood Way, Redding Drive, Belmont Circle, the southwest end of Berry Drive, Limekiln Road and the 800 block of River Road. Ongoing rainfall has created significant threat of flooding and debris flows in the area, which burned in last year's River Fire, leaving exposed soil and rocks that can slide in wet conditions. 

County officials are also warning those within the area of the 2020 Dolan Fire burn scar to be wary of conditions and be on the lookout for possible landslides. 

"Properties and people located below or downstream of the burn areas are at an increased risk for flooding and debris flows," a Dec. 13 press release from the county reads. "Areas that have experienced increased runoff, flooding, debris, and/or mudflows since the fires in August 2020 will likely experience similar or worsened impacts."

Heavy rains brought on by an atmospheric river in January caused culverts to back up around Rat Creek in Big Sur, leading a portion of Highway 1 to take on too much water and debris and wash out into the Pacific Ocean. The area was part of the Dolan Fire burn scar. 

Caltrans announced on Sunday, Dec. 12 that a Highway 1 closure would last until the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 14. Barricades, cones and directional signs will be placed at each end of the highway closure. 

Christopher Neely covers a mixed beat that includes the environment, water politics, and Monterey County's Board of Supervisors. He began at the Weekly in 2021 after five years on the City Hall beat in Austin, TX.

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