California is bracing for mudslides as the next round of storms begins

Another round of heavy rain was hitting California on Wednesday, putting millions of people under a flash-flood watch and spurring precautionary evacuations in several wildfire-scarred areas vulnerable to mudflows.

In what should be the strongest in a series of recent storms, up to 3 inches of rain are expected in Southern California through Thursday and 6 inches could fall in central portions of the state. The heavy rain was expected to roll in Wednesday evening.

The rain could lead to mudflows and flooding in areas burned by wildfires last year.

Nearly 15 million people were under a flash-flood watch Wednesday morning from the Los Angeles area to central and northern parts of the state, the National Weather Service said.

Evacuations and closures

Among the wildfire-scarred areas watching particularly closely for mudflows:

Los Angeles County: Evacuations have been ordered for several communities with steep slopes deemed at risk for mudslides, especially after last year’s Woolsey Fire scorched the area. Evacuation centers have been opened in Santa Monica and Agoura.

Schools in the seaside town of Malibu, which was hit by last year’s fires, were closed Wednesday as a precaution.

“You can’t outrun or fight these mudslides,” Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner said in a