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Evacuations Ordered for Santa Barbara South Coast Ahead of Tuesday Storm

Sheriff Bill Brown announces order, which goes into effect at 4 p.m. Tuesday for communities below the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas wildfire burn areas

Man filling sandbags Click to view larger
A man fills sandbags Monday ahead of Tuesday’s expected storm. Santa Barbara County officials ordered evacuations in communities at risk of debris flows.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Sheriff Bill Brown on Monday announced evacuation orders for the rain storm expected to hit Santa Barbara County on Tuesday, and affected communities are near the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas fire burn areas. 

Brown said that he approved an evacuation order, effective at 4 p.m. Tuesday, due to the potential for debris flows. 

Residents can check the county interactive debris flow risk map to see if their homes are within an evacuation area, designated in red. 

Brown asked residents to prepare to leave the evacuation order areas by the designated time, and said the sheriff's Search and Rescue Team and deputies will start door-to-door notifications Tuesday morning. 

Evacuated communities include neighborhoods in the western Goleta Valley and Highway 154 corridor, near the Sherpa Fire and Whittier Fire burn areas, and Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, near the Thomas Fire burn area. 

The brunt of the storm is expected to be of a relatively short duration, Brown said, so authorities hope to return people to their homes within 24 hours if there are no significant debris flows or damage. 

Incident commander Kevin Taylor of the Montecito Fire Protection District said the National Weather Service predicts two waves of heavy rain for Santa Barbara County, with the first arriving between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday, and the second after 2 a.m. Wednesday. 

Sheriff Bill Brown, center, and other Santa Barbara County officials announce storm-related evacuation orders on Monday. Click to view larger
Sheriff Bill Brown, center, and other Santa Barbara County officials announce storm-related evacuation orders on Monday.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

An evacuation shelter will open Tuesday afternoon at the Goleta Valley Community Center, at 5679 Hollister Ave., and anyone who needs help evacuating animals can contact the animal hotline at 805.681.4332. 

The county opened a call center to answer questions, at 833.688.5551, and residents can also call 211. 

Click here for resources for evacuated residents, including shelter and school closure information.

The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for all burn areas in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday, warning residents that peak rainfall rates could range between 0.5 inches per hour and 0.8 inches per hour, with the possibility of higher rates with thunderstorms.

The heaviest rainfall is expected on south and southwest-facing slopes, including the Santa Ynez mountain range, according to the National Weather Service. 

"Shallow mud and debris flows are likely, especially in first-year burn areas, with the potential for more significant and damaging debris flows," the Flash Flood Watch said.

Rainfall estimates between 1-1/2 inches and 3 inches are likely along the coasts and foothills over the next few days, said Lisa Phillips, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Oxnard office.

Santa Barbara County’s storm-related evacuation map shows areas at risk of debris flows in red. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara County’s storm-related evacuation map shows areas at risk of debris flows in red. Check ReadySBC.org for an interactive map.  (Santa Barbara County photo)

Precipitation amounts between 3 inches and 5 inches are estimated in mountain areas, she said, adding that snow levels are expected to remain above 7,000 feet.

A chance of rain is in the forecast Tuesday morning, increasing throughout the day into Tuesday night, when there is a chance of isolated thunderstorms, Phillips said. 

Tuesday night is predicted to bring the heaviest rainfall, and southeast winds blowing 15-25 mph, with gusts of between 35 and 45 mph are expected, Phillips said.

Heavy rain and gusty winds in some areas are expected to continue in the morning hours Wednesday.

“Right now, we have it (rain) starting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and going to about 4 a.m. on Wednesday,” Phillips said Monday afternoon.

Santa Barbara County fire officials said agencies are upstaffing to stage responders for the storm. 

Several schools are canceling after-class activities Tuesday or relocating classes for Wednesday, according to County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido. 

More rain showers are expected throughout the day Wednesday, possibly through Friday. 

“Hopefully, it will be dry by Saturday,” Phillips said.

The forecast is predicting partly cloudy skies during the day on Saturday, with high temperatures in the mid-50s to around 60. Overnight temperatures in the lower to mid-40s and partly cloudy skies are expected at night.

Rain may pick up again Sunday, which as of Monday had a predicted 30-percent chance of showers and daytime temperatures in the mid-50s to low-60s. 

Freedom Warming Centers shelters will be open at 6 p.m. Tuesday, through 6 a.m. Wednesday, for all locations, organizers said.

The locations include: the Carpinteria Community Church at 1111 Vallecito Road; Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara at 1535 Santa Barbara Street in Santa Barbara; University Methodist Church at 892 Camino Del Sur in Isla Vista; Salvation Army at 200 W. Cook St. in Santa Maria; and Peace Lutheran Church at 1000 W. Ocean Blvd. in Lompoc. The warming center hotline is 805.324.2372.

» Click here for the latest Santa Barbara area forecast from the National Weather Service.

» Click here for Santa Barbara County real-time rainfall totals.

» Click here to sign up for Aware & Prepare emergency alerts, or find out more at the ReadySBC.org website.

» Click here to sign up for Noozhawk’s free breaking news text alerts to your cell phone.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli contributed reporting to this story.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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