U.S. 395 Reopens After Mudslide Closes Road Overnight

Staff Writer

A four-foot deep, 100-foot-long mudslide closed U.S. Highway 395 Monday night, May 21 and into the morning of Tuesday, May 22 near Topaz following 24 hours of intense rain fall but the highway has since reopened in both directions.
According to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Nevada Department of Transportation, the slide was likely triggered by two things; the heavy rain fall and, the fact that the slopes above the mudslide were very steep and had been burned in the Slinkard Fire last fall.
The end result was a series of mudslides in the area, with the one near Topaz, close to the Agricultural station there on the California/Nevada border, the largest.
According to Caltrans, as of noon Tuesday, the thick mud and debris removal work has been completed by both agencies.
The big slide wasn’t the only one. Two other, smaller mudslides were also triggered near the same location, following almost a week of unusually heavy rain for the Eastern Sierra.
“This is exactly where the Slinkard Fire burned last fall,” said Inyo National Forest Public Information Officer Deb Schweizer. “The slopes were already unstable due to the loss of vegetation.”
The Slinkard Fire started after a vehicle caught fire last fall and burned about 7,000 acres above the highway near Topaz, although it did not burn any structures in the community. Because it is early May and the fire occurred so recently, there has not been enough time for new vegetation to cover the slopes, adding to the instability of the slopes above the highway.
The forecast is for another four days of unsettled weather, but the heaviest rainfall should be over as of Wednsday, according to the National Weather Service.
For the latest highway information, visit the Caltrans QuickMap site at quickmap.dot.ca.gov or call the Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).