Significant mud- and landslides, including huge boulders and piles of rock, have cut off the community of Big Sur from the world for the second time in six months as a section of Highway 1 from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to Lucia has been closed. CBS 5 reports that a massive cleanup is underway, and CHP estimates that the roadway will be closed to traffic for as long as three weeks.
Caltrans geologists are on hand surveying "several" slides, above which the cliffs remain fairly unstable following the heavy rains of the last two weeks, and reportedly crashing boulders (some "the size of cars") have left big holes in the highway that will have to be repaired after all the debris has been cleared. At least one of the slides happened last Friday.
And despite signage notifying drivers of the road closure back in Carmel, tourists continue trying to make the trek through Big Sur anyway, only be turned around by officers and told to make their way back to the 101.
This is now the second natural disaster to impact Big Sur in six months, after the Soberanes Fire sparked on July 22, 2016 and not contained until early October shut down much of the tourist season for the redwood-filled state parks last summer and fall. Though the fire did not end up doing too much property damage, the three-month firefight became the costliest in US history, topping $200 million. It also led to a brief closure of Highway 1 in August.
Two weeks ago, another smaller mudslide in a burn scar left by the Soberanes Fire brought down several redwoods and slammed into a car, briefly shutting down Highway 1 just south of the Fernwood Resort.
CBS 5 spoke to one woman yesterday at the Fernwood Bar & Grill who was facing a room with zero customers, and who said she had friends in the area filing for unemployment, knowing that business is going to be dead for the next three weeks.