The death toll grew after searchers discovered two more bodies Wednesday in the hard-hit enclave of Montecito, Santa Barbara County officials said.
Flash floods there on Tuesday swept vast amounts of mud, water and debris down from foothills that were stripped of brush by the recent Thomas wildfire.
Winfrey’s home survived the mudslides. “Such alerts have posed as serious interruptions to student studying”, said Sophie Zeng, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
About 12 miles of northbound lanes between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara also remain closed.
“A number of houses were gutted, with rescuers pulling out people trapped under mountains of debris”, KCLU’s Lance Orozco wrote on Tuesday night.
The number of people missing after the deadly mudslides in Montecito, California, has surged to 48.
The NWS also issued a flash flood advisory for southern Ventura and Santa Barbara County until 1:30 p.m. local time with heavy showers in the area. “There hasn’t been a sound definition of what constitutes a missing person”. Twenty had “storm-related injuries” and four were critically hurt, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
The wildfires, including the Thomas Fire – the largest in the state’s history – stripped hillsides of vegetation and left behind a slick film that prevented the ground from absorbing rainwater.
“It’s going to be worse than anyone imagined for our area”, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason told the Los Angeles Times.
“It was literally a carpet of mud and debris everywhere with huge boulders, rocks, downed trees, power lines, wrecked cars, lots of obstacles and challenges for rescue personnel to get to homes, let alone to get people out of them”.
One man, who wished only to be identified as Mikey, trudged through the Montecito mud with a shovel in hand.
Tuesday’s thunderstorms brought downpours of 13 millimetres in just five minutes in Montecito and 21 mm in 15 minutes in Carpenteria, according to the US National Weather Service.
A storm that slammed a California coastal community is over.
The emergency alert, similar to an Amber Alert for children, was sent early Tuesday to cellphones in the area that were registered to people under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders.
More than a dozen people are missing after mudslides swept away about 100 houses.
According to a report from the NBC-affiliated television station, KSBY, approximately 500 firefighters are involved in the rescue operation.