Watch CBS News

California faces dangerous mudslides after monster storms

Mudslides pose more danger after California storms
Mudslides pose more danger after deadly California storms 02:49

The deluge has stopped after California's ninth atmospheric river storm in recent weeks, but the danger remains. 

A mudslide stopped a commuter train in Sunol in its tracks and more than 200 passengers onboard had to be evacuated. 

In Berkeley, mud poured through resident Marjorie Cruz's home of more than 20 years, making it one of eight in the area deemed unlivable. 

"We are just at the mercy of this mud and hoping and praying and keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn't take the rest of my house out," Cruz said. 

Since New Year's Day, California has experienced more than 500 landslides, spanning the entire state. 

"Once you've had a lot of rain and the sponge is full, then the next rainstorm that comes in, the bar is lower for triggering new landslides," said University of Washington geologist David Montgomery. 

The present danger is rooted in the past.  

In 2005, a mudslide in La Conchita, not far from Ojai, swallowed up the community with no warning, killing 10 people. Nearly a decade later, one of the nation's worst-ever mudslides in the town of Oso, Washington, killed 43, also without warning. 

"It was the rain in the month before that ended up triggering it," Montgomery said. "So the hazard doesn't go away when the rain stops." 

The record rain also brings the hazard of flooding, causing roads to buckle, sinkholes to open up and boulders to crash down. 

Ojai resident John Sehon said he was checking water levels around his home every 20 minutes while it rained, "making sure it wasn't going to rise up on me real fast and catch me by surprise." 

Rain to ease up on California as winter weather moves across U.S. 01:02
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.