Normally, vegetation absorbs rainfall, reducing runoff. However, wildfires leave the ground charred, barren, and unable to absorb water, creating conditions ripe for flash flooding and mudflow. Rain after a wildfire creates other hazards because soil is unstable after a fire. Mudflows are rivers of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land, often caused by a combination of brush loss and subsequent heavy rains. Mudflows can develop when water saturates the ground, such as from rapid snowmelt or heavy or long periods of rainfall, causing a thick, liquid, downhill flow of earth. Sloped areas along creeks and rivers are more likely to have mudslides and debris flows, Properties in the burn area, downstream from the burn area, and downhill from the burn area at the most risk.
Butte County and the Town of Paradise, in partnership with state agencies, are working together to prepare and reduce flooding and protect waterways. This work includes clearing drainage ways; installing sediment control measures to reduce ash and sediment transport into the creeks and streams; and monitoring drainages and rainfall burned drainage areas.
Initial indications of debris flow would be when you are looking up creek, larger woody debris (e.g. branches) is flowing down, instead of the typical sticks and leaves. Another indication is when you are looking up a hillside, you can see cracks or movement of large rocks of large quantities of soil flowing down.
Current County road conditions can be found at www.buttecounty.net/roadconditions. Please be prepared for winter driving conditions if you must travel. Motorists should carry food, water, a shovel, waterproof jackets and gloves, boots, and make sure their vehicle is in good condition with proper tires, tire cables or chains, fresh windshield wipers and a full tank of fuel. Snow chains requirements have been lifted, but may be implemented at any time if conditions worsen.