Wednesday, November 25 , 2015, 4:32 am | Fair 52º

Downpours Send Santa Barbara Rainfall Totals Soaring

Over 9 inches logged west of Goleta with much of county getting at least 5; flash-flood watch remains in effect for Jesusita Fire area until 7 p.m.

By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher | updated logo 5 p.m. |

Heavy rain continued to drench Santa Barbara County on Sunday as a series of slow-moving, warm storm fronts moved through Southern California.

With parts of the county expected to receive up to 10 inches of rain by Monday, Tecolote Canyon west of Goleta is well on its way. As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the county Public Works Department rain gauge there had topped 9 inches in the last 48 hours.

Few problems have been reported so far — mostly rocks and debris on roadways, according to authorities — but the Jesusita Fire burn area remains under a flash-flood watch until 7 p.m. Sunday.

In preparation for more incoming storms over the next 72 hours, the county Office of Emergency Services said late Sunday afternoon that county Flood Control District crews are clearing recently constructed debris racks in the burn areas.

Meanwhile, county road crews are responding to mud and rock slides in the mountain areas as well as reports of localized flooding. Officials said rock slides have closed Gibraltar Road above Santa Barbara and San Marcos Road between Highway 154 and Twin Peaks.

The National Weather Service said rainfall of more than an inch an hour is possible at times and residents in the flash-flood area are advised to take steps to protect their property and to remain alert. Officials cautioned motorists to not drive over submerged roads and warned against walking through water above knee level.

The forecast calls for steady rain, heavy at times, through Monday night. The most intense rain is expected Sunday afternoon and evening, and again on Monday night, and flood advisories are in effect for low-lying and poor drainage areas. Thunderstorms are possible Sunday afternoon. High and low temperatures in the 50s are forecast through Tuesday night.

At 5 p.m. Sunday, the county Public Works Department reported rainfall totals of at least 5 inches throughout much of the county, with the foothills and mountains above Santa Barbara receiving the most. Tecolote Canyon had recorded 9.81 inches of rain in the last 48 hours, El Deseo Ranch off East Camino Cielo above Montecito 9.72 inches, San Marcos Pass 8.97 inches, Mount Calvary 8.54 inches, the Edison Trail above Carpinteria 7.76 inches, Refugio Pass 7.63 inches and La Cumbre Peak 6.86 inches. Downtown Santa Barbara reported 5.37 inches of rainfall and Goleta 5.27 inches.

Click here for the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department’s interactive precipitation map.

Sandbags are available at two South Coast locations:

» At the end of County Dump Road by the South Coast Recycling & County Transfer Station, 4430 Calle Real

» Next to county Fire Station 14, 320 N. Los Carneros Road

The storms are a result of a plume of deep subtropical moisture pushing across the Pacific. A series of fronts is expected to dump more than 10 inches of rain on south-facing foothill and mountain regions of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties by Monday night.

The weather service said the heavy rains make dangerous debris flows possible in recent burn areas, including the 8,700-acre footprint of the Jesusita Fire, which raged above Santa Barbara in 2009, and that year’s La Brea Fire near New Cuyama.

Another wet storm system is expected to hit Wednesday with yet another just in time for Christmas. According to the weather service, the next few days could see the highest rainfall totals in recent years.

The rain was good news for Santa Barbara County’s reservoirs. Officials said Sunday afternoon that Gibraltar Reservoir is up 4½ feet since the storms rolled in Friday while Lake Cachuma is also receiving Santa Ynez River runoff and is rising slowly.

The Santa Maria River peaked at more than 6,000 cubic feet of water per second Sunday afternoon, county OES officials said. Recent work on the levee, including pilot channel work in the river, is performing as planned but county crews are monitoring conditions there.

Meanwhile, the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara St., will keep its homeless warming center open until Monday, according to Dr. Lynne Jahnke, who has coordinated the shelters.

Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

Click here for the county Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Follow the OES on Facebook.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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