USA (Next Media Animation) – Hundreds of motorists were stranded on Thursday as Southern California was battered by a severe thunderstorm that brought torrential rains and powerful winds.
CBS reports that State Route 58 along California’s Tehachapi Pass was hit with several inches of rain and hail the size of golf balls Thursday afternoon. Within about twenty minutes of intense showers, the road began to flood. Drivers describe seeing vehicles floating in the water and being pushed into each other before a river of mud, rocks and debris came flowing down, engulfing some two hundred vehicles in several feet of mud.
According to the Los Angeles Times, some motorists abandoned their cars in the ensuing chaos, though others stayed with their vehicles until rescuers came hours later.
The mud flow was likely caused by a lack of vegetation holding down soil, leading to rocks and sediments falling into water channels and being swept down the mountainside by torrential rains.
A total of one hundred ninety-two vehicles were trapped in mud on the highway, including one hundred fifteen passenger cars, seventy-five semis, and two tour buses, reports ABC 7. Highway 58 is still closed as rescuers continue to excavate the mud.
A flash flood warning remains in effect in several areas of Los Angeles County as the National Weather Service says that rain could continue to fall until Saturday.
Los Angeles Times, LAist, The Bakersfield Californian, ABC 7, CNN, CBS, The Fresno Bee