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Weather Service Issues Flood Watch for Santa Barbara County

Residents in the Sycamore Canyon, Gap Fire and Tea Fire areas are urged to take precautions.

The National Weather Service on Wednesday issued a Flash Flood Watch for the Santa Barbara area, including the Tea Fire Burn Area and the Sycamore Creek area below the burn area.

Residents who are living within the burn area or immediately below it are reminded that they need to be prepared in the event of a flood emergency. Residents should have emergency plans in place and remain ready to evacuate should they be ordered. City and county officials are closely monitoring the incoming storm and are activating initial response plans in anticipation of the potential flooding or debris flows that might occur.

To help the public understand what they are hearing when a weather-related emergency message is sent over TV and radio stations, the NWS offers the following terms and explanations:

» Flash Flood Watch — A flash flood watch is used when the risk of flooding and/or debris flows near recent burn areas has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A flash flood watch is normally issued six hours to 24 hours in advance.

» Flash Flood Warning — A flash flood warning is issued when flash flooding and/or debris flows near recent burn areas is occurring, is imminent or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property. People should move to higher ground or shelter in place if safe to do so during a flash flood warning. A flash flood warning is issued based on radar rainfall estimates, rain gauge data, and ground truth reports prior to or during the heavy rain event. Lead times can vary from minutes to more than one hour.

A Flash Flood Watch and a Flash Flood Warning are the two most important messages issued by the NWS.

In addition, the NWS may issue:

» Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory — An urban and small stream flood advisory is issued when minor flooding is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. An advisory is used for conditions that are more of a nuisance, such as ponding of water on low-lying fields, under bridge overpasses and city streets, and do not threaten life or property.

Sandbags are available for residents at the sandbag station at Santa Barbara’s Corporate Annex Yard, 401 E. Yanonali St. The station will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Christmas Eve, closed Thursday, open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and closed on the weekend. There is no limit on the number of sandbags residents may take. Residents should be prepared to fill sandbags and bring gloves.

Additional sandbags also are available at County Fire Station 14, 320 Los Carneros in Goleta and at the Montecito Fire Protection stations in Montecito.

In the event of a large emergency or disaster, the county and the cities will work with area news organizations to distribute emergency public information. The County’s “Stations of Choice” for emergency news include the following AM stations — KTMS-990, KZSB- 1290, KUHL-1410, KINF-1440, plus the San Marcos Pass Radio Station 1040 — and the following FM stations — KCSB-91.9, KSYV-96.7, KTYD-99.9, KSBL-101.7 and KRAZ-105.9. In addition, the Spanish language FM stations KSPE-94.5 and KIST-107.7 are also designated “Stations of Choice” in the cooperative agreement with the county.

Click here for more information regarding the emergency preparedness. Click here for emergency preparedness tips.

Nicole Koon is a Santa Barbara County public information officer.

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