After a long week of heavy rain and strong winds — leaving downed trees, power outages and closed roads in their wake — sunshine should be here to greet Santa Barbara County residents as they move further into the weekend.
Showers and scattered thunderstorms are expected Friday, with a flash flood watch in effect through the evening, but it should taper off into Saturday, which is expected to be mostly sunny, according to the National Weather Service.
County officials and residents are likely to welcome the respite after the recent series of winter storms, with Thursday proving particularly destructive.
Shortly before noon, a large tree toppled at Haley and Bath streets, pulling down power lines, damaging at least 10 vehicles and trapping a woman inside her vehicle. The woman’s car wasn’t hit by the tree, but Capt. Mike Deponce said the Santa Barbara City Fire Department moved limbs and waited for Southern California Edison to cut power to the area before getting her out.
West Haley Street was closed between Bath and De La Vina streets, and the Santa Barbara School District canceled afternoon classes for nearby Las Flores Preschool.
Besides the usual medical calls, Deponce said that about half of the department’s calls on Thursday involved trees, with branches caught in wires, causing them to arc and catch the trees on fire. The Santa Barbara Police Department received several calls of a possible sinkhole forming on Modoc Road at Veronica Springs
After a spate of falling tree limbs this week, residents are advised not to park under or near trees during the storms.
Also on Thursday, officials reported that Mountain Drive around the Cold Springs Crossing was impassable because flooding. The 2500 and 2600 blocks of Bella Vista in Montecito were impeded by slides, but the road remained passable. In addition, a boulder was in the road at 900 Park Lane in Santa Barbara.
In Santa Maria, several roads closed Thursday because of flooding, but only Black Road between Betteravia and Stowell roads remained closed Friday morning.
Interstate 5 (the Grapevine) was closed from the Los Angeles/Kern County line to 25 miles south of Bakersfield because of snow, which Caltrans warned could affect Highway 101 traffic as motorists were rerouted.
The city of Santa Barbara saw nearly an inch of rainfall within the past 24 hours, and Goleta saw nearly 2 inches. In the past five days, the county location that has seen the most rain was La Cumbre Peak, which had more than 8 inches.
Rock falls and muddy runoff have been reported on Highway 154 in the San Marcos Pass area. Officials have advised drivers to proceed with caution while Caltrans crews work on the roads.
No evacuations have occurred this week in Santa Barbara County, and no warnings are in place.
Officials have cautioned residents near the Jesusita, Gap and Tea Fire burn areas to stay vigilant all week, but said Thursday that hillsides affected by heavy rain may be unstable even after the rain stops. Mudslides and debris flows remain a possibility.
“It was not the huge storm with mudslides everywhere that we were expecting,” said Nina Johnson, an assistant to the Santa Barbara city administrator, adding that the city was busy cleaning up minor damage along the waterfront, trees and power lines.
Snow levels are expected to drop, so Santa Barbara County could have snow and icy conditions at the higher elevations of mountains and mountain roadways, according to county officials.
County Public Works crews are in the midst of dredging the Goleta Slough and continue to clear out debris basins.
The Goleta Beach Pier remains closed, and officials will re-evaluate the status of the closure on Friday. Cachuma Lake, Santa Maria’s Waller Park, Ocean Beach and Guadalupe Dunes also are closed and will be reopened when conditions are considered safe.
A high surf advisory is in effect until 3 p.m. Friday. In fact, 12 boats washed ashore in Santa Barbara County during the week. Nine of the boats turned up on East Beach, two washed up below Santa Barbara Cemetery, and one hit Goleta Beach pier and subsequently sank. The public is urged to stay away from creeks and streams.
County Public Works scaled back its 24-hour levee patrol Thursday, and water mains flowing into the pilot channel and levee were moving smoothly.
Officials said Cachuma Lake continues to be in good shape, and lake levels have risen 2 feet in the past 36 hours. Levels would have to rise another 17 feet before officials would need to open gates there.
Power outages are expected to continue and should be reported to Pacific Gas and Electric by calling 800.743.5002.
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.