When the rain began here on Wednesday it wasn't too bad, gentle and light. Long before dawn today though, a steady downpour began. We were under official flash flood warnings, mudslide warnings, and PCH was closed in several places, as were other streets where flooding has become quite bad.
The fire, when it raced through, was burning so hot that it pushed waves of combustible gases down the canyons. Moments before the wall of wildfire actually reached us, the landscape was already exploding into flames.
Today that leaves tens of thousands of acres in the Santa Monica Mountains -- they're saying up to 100,000 acres burned -- utterly naked. The shrubs and scrub and grasses whose root systems anchored the hillsides, whose foliage spread and slowed the winter rain, helped funnel runoff into certain arroyos and specific gullies which, over the decades, formed a kind of hydro-logic, are gone. Now it's a free-for-all. On the hillsides, rain sheets down and gravity takes over, no undergrowth left to stop or even guide it. It's just mud and ash and debris and rocks and boulders, all mixed into a freight train of slurry.