On Wednesday, soaked soil led to a massive mudslide on the southbound lanes of Highway 17 at Sugarloaf Road.
The slide happened around 1:30 p.m., and forced quickly forced the closure of both southbound lanes. Caltrans crews told ABC7 News, the right lane would remain closed overnight.
HWY 17 at Sugarloaf slide update: Due to concerns of trees in the affected slide area, the S/B #2 lane will likely remain closed throughout the night. We hope to open all N/B lanes later this evening. We currently have one lane in each direction open. pic.twitter.com/w9GoS4T0gO— CHP Santa Cruz (@CHPscrz) February 14, 2019
"The threat is going to continue as long as we continue to receive rain," San Jose State University (SJSU) Professor, Laura Sullivan-Green said. "The soil does not have an opportunity to dry out."
Sullivan-Green is an Associate Professor and the Department Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at SJSU.
She explained winter storms come with the high probability of slides and other serious wet weather hazards, like toppling trees. Hazards that can be especially common along mountainous roads.
"These trees are damaged from years of drought conditions, and then you have them in saturated soil that is continuously staying wet from continuing rain," she explained. "They're at risk of toppling."
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At the scene of Wednesday's mudslide, Caltrans crews said they identified trees that need to be removed before traffic flow can be restored.
The California Highway Patrol Santa Cruz was also on-scene, monitoring the mess.
"We never can anticipate it, we never know what's going to happen," CHP Officer Stephen Busath told ABC7 News. "We do know with heavy rainfall in the Santa Cruz Mountains, trees are going to come down. There are going to be some slides."
Down from the mountains, more problems are expected across the South Bay. The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for the Guadalupe River area in San Jose.
Minor flooding is expected near the Alma Avenue Bridge, to the nearby Elks Lodge between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Thursday morning.
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#ALERT along SB Hwy 17: All lanes blocked. SB 17 at Sugarloaf. Use alternate routes. — Rain and wind conditions noticeably worsening as we make our way through the Santa Cruz Mountains. #abc7now #LiveDoppler7 pic.twitter.com/cpVRKFWmSM— Amanda del Castillo (@AmandaABC7) February 14, 2019
BACKED UP— we’re 1/4-mile from Glenwood Drive. @CHPscrz still on scene of a mud and rock slide at Sugarloaf Road. Latest update from #CHP: left SB lane is open. #abc7now #LiveDoppler7 pic.twitter.com/n3sZEmCOxC— Amanda del Castillo (@AmandaABC7) February 14, 2019
#UPDATE Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor, Eric Degroodt tells me he anticipates right SB lane will be shut down overnight. Geo tech crews have identified trees that need to be removed. Left lane open. @CHPscrz NOT advising travel through Glenwood. Tree down, there. #abc7now pic.twitter.com/TlDUAJ4wgL— Amanda del Castillo (@AmandaABC7) February 14, 2019
We’re heading back to San Jose on Hwy 17. SB traffic is a nightmare after mud and rock slide forced the closure of right lane near Sugarloaf Road. Happened around 1:30 p.m. Glenwood is not a good alternative due to downed tree. #abc7now #traffic #alert #LiveDoppler7 pic.twitter.com/KdjkbKs53D— Amanda del Castillo (@AmandaABC7) February 14, 2019