A large part of the famed California Highway 1 collapsed after heavy rains hit the stretch of the highway near Big Sur, causing it to slide into the Pacific Ocean.
According to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the collapse occurred on Friday after a “debris flow” from the hillside above the roadway overwhelmed the drainage infrastructure. “It flowed across the highway and eroded the road, resulting in the complete loss of a segment of Highway 1.”
According to multiple media reports, the incident occurred just a mile from where the Dolan Fire raged this past summer. CDOT stated that the land here is prone to landslides during heavy rains. The area has been hit with more than 10 inches of rain since late last week.
"The heavy rainfall is always a challenge, but when you've got the fires and the rainfall within a few months of each other, even a few years of each other, you generate a whole new category of risks," said Stanford University environmental studies professor Chris Field in an interview with NBC News.
California Highway Patrol Officer John Yerace told CNN he was patrolling the area on Thursday around 4 p.m. when he noticed "this section of roadway, specifically the southbound lane, had fallen off into the ocean."
According to Caltrans, they have a damage assessment team on the scene. “It's unclear how long the repair could take, and the road will remain closed in the meantime,” the agency told CNN.
Video released by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office shows the collapsed portion of Highway 1 from a driving perspective, and then shows drone footage over the estimated 150-foot gap in the road.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is warning all drivers that they will be unable to travel through the Big Sur area en route to southern California. In a statement to NBC, they said, “If you are coming from the south you cannot travel to northern California. Emergency crews are working to assess the damage, clear the debris, and figure out how to rebuild.”
No one was injured in the road collapse. The highway is closed about 4 miles south of Big Sur in Monterey County to Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County. For more on Big Sur and Highway 1, consider: