California highway crumbles into the ocean after state drenched by storms

Drone footage shows missing section of iconic Highway 1

Drone footage shows Highway 1 damage

A scenic stretch of the iconic Highway 1 in California has crumbled into the ocean after storms drenched the Golden State earlier this week.

The collapse was discovered on Thursday afternoon around 15 miles south of Big Sur.

It is unclear how long it will take to fix the road, but repairs will cost millions, officials at the California transport department (Caltrans) said.

Caltrans later published drone footage which showed a missing section of road at least 20m wide. 

“Our crews are on site securing it, assessing damage & starting clean-up/ repairs,” the department tweeted on Friday.

Known as a slip out, such collapses are triggered when soil on either side of the road becomes so saturated it cannot be held in place.

There was 15 inches of rainfall in the region this week, causing mudslides that damaged dozens of structures in the local area.

Winds of up to 120mph swept through parts of California near Lake Tahoe when the storms there peaked earlier this week. The capital city of Sacramento was still grappling with power outages and downed trees on Thursday.

The National Weather Service had issued winter storm warnings for mountainous areas in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and flood advisories for much of the agricultural Central Valley.

In Monterey County along the Central Coast, several debris flows forced evacuations earlier this week, heightening concerns that last year's fires could be followed by dangerous mudslides.

The 2020 fire season was one of the worst on record in the most populous US state, burning 4.3 million acres and killing 33 people.

Mudslides often follow fire, because without the roots of living trees holding the soil in place, heavy rains can cause part of a hillside to break away.

Additional reporting by AP

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