The Rains Came, the Mud Flowed

Death and destruction in Northern California

It had all the appearances of a very normal storm as it came across the Pacific," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Richard Wagoner. But the storm was far from normal, and so was its nightmarish impact. The extraordinarily heavy rains that poured down on Northern California last week—in some areas, more than a foot in 32 hours—followed weeks of rain that had saturated the porous clay earth. On Monday, mountainsides began turning to mud, flowing in thick torrents over towns and rural houses in their paths. In wealthy...

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