A gaping hole has appeared along California’s iconic Highway 1 after heavy rain saw part of the road collapse into the ocean.
The debris was first discovered at Rat Creek, 24 kilometres south of Big Sur, on Thursday.
Thankfully, it occurred within part of the coastal highway already closed due to the storms.
“I was in the area, when I noticed this section of roadway, specifically the southbound lane, had fallen off into the ocean,” California Highway Patrol officer John Yerace said.
“Some time overnight, prior to 6.30am (Friday), we responded back to the scene with the assistance of Caltrans access and realised that the roadway is now gone.”
Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) District 5 filmed the damage to the area with a drone, which public information officer Jim Shivers labelled a “slip-out”.
The National Weather Service Bay Area said it was a result of an “atmospheric river” event, known to trigger mudslides.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an atmospheric river is a “flowing column of condensed water vapour in the atmosphere, responsible for producing significant levels of rain and snow, especially in the western United States”.
“Some of the larger, more powerful ARs can create extreme rainfall and floods capable of disrupting travel, inducing mudslides and causing catastrophic damage to life and property.”
Caltrans director Toks Omishakin said the section of Highway 1 will be closed for several weeks due to clean-up and repair efforts.
Visit California describes the “coast-hugging” highway, stretching nearly 1050 kilometres, as “what dreams are made of”.
“The most well-known (and photographed) stretch runs along California’s Central Coast from Santa Barbara to Monterey, passing by the unspoilt coastline of Big Sur,” it states.
The Los Angeles Times reports it will cost millions of dollars to repair.
Californian Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday issued an emergency proclamation for the counties of Monterey and San Luis Obispo “due to the recent winter storms related to an atmospheric river system, and their effects”.
In addition to washing out part of the highway, the storms have threatened further mud and debris flows, damaged critical infrastructure and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.