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Local News

End of a Dry 2016 in Santa Barbara County Expected to Be Rainy

Showers likely throughout New Year's Eve day, with more precipitation possible next week

Light rain fell throughout Santa Barbara County on Friday, and more showers are in the forecast for New Year’s Eve day. Click to view larger
Light rain fell throughout Santa Barbara County on Friday, and more showers are in the forecast for New Year’s Eve day. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County is on track to end 2016 — a year of continuing drought — with rain, and the new year may bring another chance of showers to the area.

After a damp Friday afternoon, most areas of the county received only about a quarter of an inch of rain, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department.

“Santa Barbara and Ventura counties received a pretty good amount of rain — about what we were expecting,” said David Gomberg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The winter weather will likely affect travel plans for those commuting across mountain areas on New Year's Eve.

NOAA released a winter weather advisory in effect from 8 a.m. to midnight on Saturday in the Santa Barbara County mountains.

The potential for snow and ice on low-elevation mountain passes will likely affect travelers, according to NOAA.

“The main issue is the low snow level and people traveling across the mountain passes,” Gomberg said.

Snow levels could reach 4,500 to 5,500 feet Saturday morning, then lowering to 3,500 to 4,000 feet in the afternoon and evening. 

Even though low mountain passes on Interstate 5 are outside of the county, Gomberg stressed the influence on holiday travelers.

Travelers should be prepared for snow-covered roads and limited visibility.

As of 9 p.m. Friday, the county Public Works Department recorded the highest rainfall in the county in Cuyama, with 0.37 inches.

Other readings included 0.32 inches in Santa Barbara, 0.30 inches in Summerland, 0.21 inches in Goleta, 0.17 in Lompoc, and 0.04 inches in Santa Maria.

Showers are expected Saturday morning and afternoon, with the probability increasing to a 60-percent.

Additionally, thunderstorms are possible during the afternoon hours.

“In a local area, there can be some heavy downpours — not widespread, but pockets of heavier showers,” Gomberg said. 

Mostly cloudy skies, with temperature highs in the mid-50s, are expected Saturday for the South Coast.

Northwest winds around 15 mph are forecast Saturday night, with lows in the mid-30s.

Partly cloudy skies and daytime temperatures with highs in the 60s are expected Sunday for New Year's Day.

West winds are expected to pick up 15 to 25 mph on Sunday afternoon and evening.

The forecast also calls for rain in early 2017.

A 20-percent chance of showers is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It looks like it can be another moderate storm system,” Gomberg said. “There’s a better chance at Tuesday night and on Wednesday.”

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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