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Owner of California cliff-side home describes harrowing scene following intense rainfall: 'Every time it rains, I get scared'

"It's a strong signal. The change has already been happening."

“It’s a strong signal. The change has already been happening.”

Photo Credit: iStock

A recent surge of landslides in Southern California is wreaking havoc as excessively rainy weather has caused an unforeseen amount of high-profile damage.

What's happening?

Inside Climate News reported in February on the 592 landslides that occurred in Los Angeles in as little as one week, and interviews with the area's residents paint a vivid picture of how the heavy rainfall is leading to more problems than just flooding. 

Homeowners found themselves grappling with rivers of mud, rocks, and roots cascading down hillsides, obstructing roads and putting homes in vulnerable positions. 

"Whenever it rained, we'd be happy: 'We're not in a severe drought anymore, yay!'" one affected resident said, per Inside Climate News. "But after this, every time it rains, I get scared."

Why are mudslides concerning?

Climate scientists like Mohammed Ombadi have been sounding the alarm for years over how a warmer planet leads to heavier storms, which means more precipitation.

"It's a strong signal," Ombadi told Inside Climate News. "The change has already been happening."

As hotter environments at higher elevations begin to make it harder for snow to accumulate, that water begins to pool on slopes and create dangerous flows of debris, putting communities at risk. 

Not only do landslides lead to significant economic losses by leaving damaged homes, roads, and infrastructure in their wake, but they can also block rivers, increase the risk of floods downstream, and even contaminate water supplies with debris and pollutants, creating long-term environmental and health problems for the surrounding populations. 

If temperatures continue to rise due to human-made pollution, even more occurrences of landslides like these can be expected in the future.

What's being done about it?

In order to help southern California residents mitigate the damaging effects of flash floods and slides, civil engineers are implementing drainage systems to prevent excessive moisture from gathering on slopes and to move the water into safer channels, per Inside Climate News

Ongoing research into warning systems that use artificial intelligence is also providing hope, as more accurately predicting geohazards could save lives in events like landslides. 

Per Inside Climate News, California emergency response teams are now coordinating with the National Weather Service to warn the public of mudflow risk days before large rainstorms are set to take place, with the warnings posted on social media platforms.

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