The slippery slope of climate change. Literally.

The costs of California mudslides are sudden and huge.In Southern California, each natural disaster is fueled by the last. California can’t catch a break from the rush of recent climate change-related events. First came the drought. Then wildfire. Now, mudslides. The domino effect of extreme weather that Southern California is experiencing, and the financial implications that come with it, isn’t a coincidence.

Earlier this month, a strong winter storm dumped five-and-a-half inches of rain across Montecito, a coastal town northwest of Los Angeles. The region, previously left vulnerable by drought and fire, couldn’t manage the heavy downpour. The result was catastrophic. At least 21 people were killed in mudslides that slid through the area. Over 300 homes were damaged or completely destroyed, and hundreds of people were evacuated.

How did this happen? Let’s back up. This is a region that is still recovering from a record-breaking drought brought on by climate change. These dry conditions helped fuel last month’s (and California’s largest) wildfire. We also know that, even if total precipitation isn’t increasing, climate change is making extreme rainfall more frequent, like the winter storm Montecito just experienced. The scorched California hillsides stripped of vegetation could not absorb the rainwater and, with no roots to hold soil in place, the hills were in free fall. The mud flowing through the streets of Montecito is just climate change’s latest act.

The effect of events such as the costs of California mudslides is not only a threat to you and your family’s safety, but to your finances. Just think, families in Montecito who endured years of drought, had to then deal with the financial consequences of wildfire and mudslides – maybe the loss of a home, paying for insurance deductibles, medical attention, and so on.

If you want to improve your costs, assets, and wellbeing, choosing the right place to live can make all the difference. Where does your town fall on our Where-To-Live Indicators? Our scorecards show each town’s potential to protect residents from the predicted challenges of climate change. Now more than ever is the time to plan for the next domino to fall.

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