A section of California's scenic Highway 1 collapsed in the storm

SAN FRANCISCO – Authorities are urging motorists to avoid California's Highway 1 after a section of nature trail along the Central Coast collapsed. Easter weekend stormMotorists were stranded near Big Sur as traffic was forced to close, officials said.

The collapse occurred amid heavy rain Saturday afternoon near the Rocky Creek Bridge, 17 miles south of Monterey, and chunks of asphalt fell into the ocean from the southbound side of the two-lane road.

The highway on a mountainous stretch of California's Central Coast was closed in both directions as engineers assessed the damage, the state Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, said.

“We are working on a plan to evacuate motorists from the area,” the California Highway Patrol said Saturday.

Rocky Creek on California Highway 1 in Monterey County was closed Sunday. Caltrans District 5 via AP

By midday Sunday, crews had determined it was safe to travel on the northbound lanes, and officials began escorting motorists around the damaged area periodically. About 300 cars were waiting to travel north as officers led the first convoy through the area San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Some stranded motorists slept in their cars overnight, the newspaper said, while others took shelter at nearby Big Sur Lodge.

Caltrans spokesman Kevin Drabinski said occasional convoys will continue in the coming days as crews shore up highways with other closures due to rocks and debris on the tracks. He asked people to avoid the area.

The famous route has seen frequent closures due to debris, mudslides and rock slides during severe weather.

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The slow-moving storm dumped heavy rain and more than a foot of snow at low elevations at Sierra Nevada ski resorts around Lake Tahoe.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Kittel said the system was typical for March but not an atmospheric river like many of the storms that have hit the state in recent winters.

The storm left the San Francisco Bay Area on Friday and “marched down the California coast,” bringing most of the rainfall to the Los Angeles area, Kittel said.

The storm then anchored itself in Southern California, where it was expected to remain Sunday night or into Monday. The potential for showers and thunderstorms, lightning and damaging winds is still possible in parts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and LA counties.

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