How charred detritus dispersed from Goleta Beach in wake of 2018 Montecito, California, debris flow

The catastrophic debris flow that affected Montecito, Calif., in early January, 2018 was the result of a rare confluence of severe events. The Thomas Fire had been raging for weeks in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and an unusually strong winter storm dumped half an inch of rain in five minutes on the newly-charred hills above the suburban enclave. With the tough vegetation that holds the hillsides in place burned off by the fire, tons of water, silt, burnt plant matter and rocks roared down the slopes and engulfed the community below, causing massive damage and the death of 23 residents.