Emergency responders load a person caught in Santa Barbara County's first major storm of the year.
A fire official says five people have been killed by mudslides that swept Southern California homes from their foundations as a powerful storm drenched recent wildfire burn areas.
Crews are working to clear debris slides that have left the freeway at times looking like a river. Motorists also had to be rescued as the mud reached waist high in some pockets, Eliason added.
A fire truck drives through the wildfire damaged Coffey Park neighborhood as rain water pools where a home once stood, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Santa Rosa, Calif..
A storm expected to bring much-needed rain to California starting Monday could be a double-edged sword for residents living near hillsides made bare by the ferocious flames from the record-setting wildfires last month.
Crews are working to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a key stretch of USA 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
At least 50 helicopter rescues were conducted in parts of Santa Barbara County hard hit by flash flooding, fire officials said. Debris flow or mudslides are likely with the National Weather Service in Los Angeles predicting 4 to 7 inches of rain are expected in the foothills and mountains over the next few days. Similar amounts were reported across that county.
Parts of California highways 33, 150 and 192 in the Ojai and Santa Barbara areas also are closed. However, trains north of Santa Barbara and south of Oxnard are operating normally, according to an Amtrak statement.
"People in these areas should stay alert to changing conditions and be prepared to leave immediately at your own discretion if the situation worsens", Santa Barbara County said in a statement.
"Right now we're still in a rescue mode and getting all of the occupants out of there", he said.
Heavy rains were triggering risky flooding Tuesday, January 9, 2017, morning in Southern California, with rivers of mud and debris destroying at least three homes and pooling water forcing police to close parts of the coastal US Route 101, . In Los Angeles, a police cruiser got swamped in tire-deep mud.
Traffic accidents have slowed the Tuesday morning commute to a crawl across the region, including along coastal USA 101 in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
A large swath of the state from San Diego to the Central Valley and east to the Sierra Nevada could see another 1 to 3 inches of rain through the day, The Weather Channel reported.
Even if the steady rain dies down, forecasters said, flash flooding and debris flows will remain a threat for the next several hours.