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Friday, February 15 , 2019, 2:34 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 54º


Flash-Flood Warning in Jesusita Fire Burn Area Until 1 p.m., High Winds Raking South Coast

Severe rain moving east above Santa Barbara as bulk of storm drops south; Lake Cachuma reportedly spilling

Although the main mass of Sunday’s powerful Pacific storm had dropped offshore of the South Coast as it moved east into Los Angeles, a band of severe rain was pounding San Marcos Pass at midmorning. The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning until 1 p.m. for the Jesusita Fire burn area and the South Coast.

Multiple warnings and advisories remain in effect for the county, including flash-flood, high-wind and storm warnings, and flooding, high-surf and small-craft advisories. No evacuation orders have been issued but authorities said residents in low-lying or flood-prone areas should be prepared to leave on short notice.

Authorities said several vehicles were reported trapped on Paradise Road in the vicinity of Highway 154, with water up to their windows. No other details were immediately available.

Rainfall in excess of 1½ inches an hour is expected through at least midday Sunday and wind gusts up to 75 mph are possible. Officials said the storm could deliver the strongest winds of the winter season, which actually ends Sunday afternoon with the spring equinox at 4:21 p.m.

Because of the dramatic rise in lake levels — Lake Cachuma had recorded 9.96 inches of rainfall from the storm and was reported to be spilling — the Bureau of Reclamation will be releasing water at Bradbury Dam. The Santa Ynez River is expected to have a very heavy flow downstream from Cachuma and may cause impacts to the lower Lompoc Valley.

Just before 10 a.m., the weather service said Doppler radar was tracking a band of heavy rain extending north along Highway 154 through San Marcos Pass and moving into the Jesusita Fire burn area in the Santa Barbara foothills. The flash-flood warning area includes Goleta, San Marcos Pass, the Jesusita Fire burn area, Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.

Residents and motorists were advised to be aware of dangerous road flooding and rapidly rising creeks and streams. Authorities urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel and asked people to stay away from creeks and rivers. Swiftly flowing water of unknown depth should not be crossed, either by foot or automobile.

The county Fire Department has increased engine staffing, hand crews and swift water rescue. Officials said the county Flood Control Department has increased field monitoring staff and is closely watching major rivers and streams.

The county Office of Emergency Services said it was receiving numerous reports of downed trees, boulders and rocks on area roads. The California Highway Patrol was reporting multiple vehicle accidents.

The high-wind warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday. Weather service officials said southeast to south winds were rapidly increasing in velocity Sunday morning to 25 to 35 mph, with gusts above 75 mph possible. The winds are expected to shift to the southwest and subside by Sunday evening. The strongest winds are expected in the foothills and along the shoreline. Montecito was being swept by steady 30 mph wind Sunday morning.

Officials said the South Coast was on track to receive at least 4 inches of rain by Monday with at least 8 inches possible in the foothills and mountains above Santa Barbara. Weather officials said rainfall intensities Sunday morning could approach an inch an hour, with south-facing slopes receiving the brunt of the deluge. The heaviest rainfall is expected over a six- to eight-hour period Sunday with thunderstorms possible through early Monday.

As of 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the county Public Works Department reported that El Deseo Ranch off East Camino Cielo above Montecito had recorded 8.23 inches of rainfall in the last 48 hours, San Marcos Pass 7.73 inches, Mount Calvary 7.33 inches, Tecolote Canyon west of Goleta 5.95 inches, Goleta 5.05 inches, downtown Santa Barbara 3.96 inches, the Gaviota coast 3.76 inches and Carpinteria 3.09 inches. Lake Cachuma had recorded 9.96 inches, the most in the county.

A high-surf advisory is in effect until 9 a.m. Monday. Breakers of 6 to 8 feet are expected through early Monday on exposed south-facing beaches and strong rip currents are likely. Officials said high astronomical tides may cause tidal overflows, beach erosion and minor flooding of low-lying areas.

A storm warning is in effect until 5 p.m. Sunday for the Santa Barbara Channel between Point Conception and Point Mugu. Winds with frequent gusts up to 50 knots and rough seas are forecast.

Recreational boaters are advised to stay in port or take shelter until winds and waves subside. Commercial vessels are also advised to prepare for very strong winds and dangerous seas.

Sunday’s high temperatures are expected to reach the low 60s, with overnight lows in the 40s.

Steady showers are forecast for Monday as the storm moves out, with high temperatures in the low 60s.

Tuesday should be mostly sunny with highs in the mid-60s.

Another storm system may be headed toward the Central Coast by midweek.

Saturday’s storm obscured a rare “super full moon” — a phenomenon that makes the moon appear about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon because of its proximity to the Earth — along the South Coast. The last time the moon’s oval orbit brought it so close to Earth was in 1993.

Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

Click here for the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department’s interactive precipitation map.

» Click here for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Follow the OES on Facebook.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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