SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. – Train service in southern Orange County has been suspended after officials said they spotted parts of a hillside that had given way.
Train operators believe parts of the San Clemente hillside significantly eroded on Wednesday and pushed boulders and debris onto tracks that are just feet away from the Pacific Ocean.
The event caused both Metrolink, a commuter rail operator, and Amtrak to announce the suspension of train service between Orange County and San Diego.
The region has been the recipient of recent heavy rainfall, which has previously played a role in slides along unstable hillsides.
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Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said the event was not the first time rail lines have been shut down due to the threat from shifting soil.
"With less than one month into the new year, the railroad tracks in South County are already closed due to a new land movement in San Clemente. Decades of climate change denial leaves Orange County behind in a race between us & Mother Earth," Foley stated.
A landslide that damaged or destroyed more than a dozen homes in July 2023 in Los Angeles County was blamed on an unusually wet winter pattern and changes in the terrain and vegetation.
Authorities have not ordered any widespread evacuations, but video from the scene showed several structures sitting precariously close to the edge of the unstable slope.
The FOX Forecast Center expects another round of heavy rainfall to impact parts of the Golden and Pacific Northwest during the upcoming workweek, which could produce additional threats of mudslides and landslides.
The heavy rainfall is associated with an atmospheric river event that could cause valley flooding, high winds and heavy mountain snow.
While cleanup and repair work has already begun, it is unclear when train service will be restored, especially with a weather pattern change on the way.
Amtrak employed the use of buses to replace its Pacific Surfliner train service until it's given the clearance that operations between Irvine and Oceanside can continue.