Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-thousands-of-tourists-are-left-stranded-after-flash-flooding-tears-apart-remote-california-highway-near-big-sur-and-dumps-it-into-deep-ravine-following-torrential-rainfallAlert – Thousands of tourists are left stranded after flash flooding tears apart remote California highway near Big Sur and dumps it into deep ravine following torrential rainfall

Around 2,000 travelers were stranded when flash floods split a scenic California highway route during a busy Easter Weekend commute.

A chunk of Highway 1’s southbound lane broke off near Big Sur and slid into the ocean below, stalling traffic for hours on Saturday afternoon.

Officials with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) urged motorists to avoid the highway along the central coast.

The area was closed in both directions near Rocky Creek Bridge, about 17 miles south of Monterey, after the road lost a chunk of asphalt as well as the stone barrier separating it from the cliff’s edge.

Many of the stranded travelers had been passing through over the holiday and were forced to sleep in nearby accommodations – or their cars.

A chunk of Highway 1's southbound lane and the stone barrier along the cliff's edge tumbled into the water below on Saturday afternoon

A chunk of Highway 1’s southbound lane and the stone barrier along the cliff’s edge tumbled into the water below on Saturday afternoon

The damage prompted road closures in both directions, leaving some 2,000 motorists stranded

Many of the travelers had been passing through over Easter Weekend and were forced to shelter in nearby hotels or sleep in their cars

Many of the travelers had been passing through over Easter Weekend and were forced to shelter in nearby hotels or sleep in their cars

Around noon Sunday, park rangers began organizing travelers into convoys to move them around the damaged section of road

Around noon Sunday, park rangers began organizing travelers into convoys to move them around the damaged section of road

Linda Molinari and her boyfriend were among the people who sheltered at Big Sur Lodge. which was designated an emergency shelter Saturday night.

Speaking to the New York Times, Molinari said the couple planned to make a day trip to Big Sur for lunch and ended up arriving around 4 pm Saturday.

After hearing about the fragmented highway, they opted to head back, but were met with a roadblock and instructed to turn around.

‘We came here just to have lunch and go home, and now it’s like everyone is trapped here,’ Molinari told the publication. ‘All the little hotels and stuff, you could tell everybody was swarming.’

The Big Sur River Inn and Ripplewood Resort also remained open, supplying stranded travelers with restrooms, food and Wi-Fi. 

Around noon Sunday, park rangers began sorting travelers into convoys that would be guided around the gap in the asphalt.

Guests dissipated quickly from Big Sur Lodge, where sixty units were booked Saturday night and just one unit remained occupied Sunday. 

‘We’ve had almost all of our guests clear out of the property,’ front desk supervisor David Eaks told the San Francisco Chronicle. ‘We were fully booked yesterday, and we are empty as of today.’ 

The slip-out was the product of a violent storm that tore across the southwestern Pacific Coast over the weekend, bringing punishing rain

The slip-out was the product of a violent storm that tore across the southwestern Pacific Coast over the weekend, bringing punishing rain

Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) promised to 'coordinate with our government partners at all levels' to ensure the speedy repair of the road

Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) promised to ‘coordinate with our government partners at all levels’ to ensure the speedy repair of the road

Officials with the California Department of Transportation urged motorists to avoid the area due to additional road closures, even as convoys began operating in both directions

Periodic convoys began to operate at 8am and 4pm in both directions starting Monday

Periodic convoys began to operate at 8am and 4pm in both directions starting Monday

Highway 1 has fallen victim to slip-outs in years past, including in January 2021 and May 2017, when Big Sur was blocked off for more than a year

Highway 1 has fallen victim to slip-outs in years past, including in January 2021 and May 2017, when Big Sur was blocked off for more than a year

A few hundred cars were waiting to travel northbound when the first convoy was led through the area, clearing out after about an hour.

Caltrans spokesman Kevin Drabinski beseeched people to avoid the area over the coming days.

While periodic convoys would continue to operate at 8am and 4pm in both directions starting Monday, the road was peppered with other closures due to fallen rocks and debris.

The slip-out was the result of a violent storm system that ripped across the southwestern Pacific Coast, bringing heavy rain and flash flooding.

Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), who represents the state’s 19th Congressional District, arrived at the scene to survey the damage on Easter Sunday.

‘Will continue to show up and coordinate with our government partners at all levels and work to ensure that the federal government plays its part to support Caltrans’ expeditious repair of the road,’ he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

It is not known when repairs will begin or how long they will last.

Slip-outs are nothing new for Highway 1. The last collapse occurred in January 2021 when mudslides swept a 150-foot chunk of pavement into the sea, closing the area for nearly three months. 

In May 2017, a series of storms caused slides that blocked off Big Sur for more than a year.