Santa Barbara and the Central Coast should get a much-need dousing over the next few days, as a large low-pressure system makes its way across the region.
A “moderate rain event” will drop between a half-inch and 1.5 inches, with the higher amounts in northern Santa Barbara County and in San Luis Obispo County, according to Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
The heaviest rainfall is expected Wednesday afternoon and evening, Smith said, with another significant burst Saturday night into Sunday.
Nearly two months into the rain season, which began Sept. 1, the county has seen below normal rainfall in all areas, and local reservoirs are well below spill levels.
Santa Barbara, with 1.76 inches, stands at 77 percent of normal rainfall, according to the county Flood Control District. Lompoc is at 60 percent (1.11 inches), Goleta is at 46 percent (1.18 inches), Santa Maria is at 36 percent (.67 inches) and Santa Ynez is at 26 percent (.55 inches).
Lake Cachuma, a major water supply for the county, is at just under 70 percent of capacity, some 22 feet below spill level.
Light rainfall is expected to begin Wednesday morning, with heavier precipitation in the afternoon and evening, Smith said.
Smith explained that the weather system — “a pretty deep low” — heading in from the Pacific Ocean will create a series of “impulses” that will drop varying amounts of rain.
Totals from the first wave are expected to be between half and three-quarters of an inch in most areas, Smith said.
Conditions will remain unsettled, with scattered showers, Thursday into Saturday, Smith said.
Then “a fair amount of rain” is likely Saturday night into Sunday, Smith said, with amounts again between half and three-quarters of an inch.
High pressure is expected to build in early next week, bringing drier conditions, she said.
Windy conditions are likely, especially Wednesday, with gusts to 50 mph, Smith said, adding that a wind advisory has not been issued but is possible.
High surf is possible through the period, with breakers 10 to 15 feet on exposed west-facing beaches, the NWS said, adding that a few sets could see waves to 20 feet.
High tides to 6 feet during the mid-morning hours could lead to minor beach erosion and localized flooding in low-lying areas, the NWS said.
Forecasters are calling for daytime highs in the mid-60s with lows in the low-50s.