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April 17, 2017
In 1983, Big Sur experienced one of the wettest years on record with 88.85 inches (2,257 mm) of rain. Up to this time, McWay Falls fell directly into the ocean. The huge rainfall resulted in several landslides and mudflows, including an extremely large mudslide immediately north of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park on March 1. The mudflow entering the ocean immediately to the north of the falls. Highway 1 was closed for a year while the road was repaired. Reconstruction deposited nearly 3,000,000 cubic yards (2,300,000 cubic metres) of landslide material at the base of the slope at the ocean. Wave action transported some of the debris south to the cove around McWay Falls, forming a sandy beach where none had existed. Loose material from the slope beneath the road is still contributing sand to the coastal system. Over time, the beach may wear away so that McWay Falls drops directly into the ocean again. The fall now meets the ocean only when the tide is in. Due to the high cliffs surrounding the cove, the beach is inaccessible, and may be covered by surf at high tide. The outlet of McWay Creek at the top of McWay Falls is accessible by a half mile long trail from the road.