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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 11:40 am | Fair 65º


More Wet Weather On Its Way to Santa Barbara County

Despite series of storms, region remains well below normal for overall rainfall — about 38 percent of average

Despite recent storms, Santa Barbara County has received below-normal rainfall this winter and Lake Cachuma sat at 39.1-percent full as of Thursday. Wet weather is in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, and in the middle of next week. Click to view larger
Despite recent storms, Santa Barbara County has received below-normal rainfall this winter and Lake Cachuma sat at 39.1-percent full as of Thursday. Wet weather is in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, and in the middle of next week. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

More wet weather is in the forecast for Santa Barbara County, with the latest storm expected to move into the area late Thursday night.

But despite a steady series of weather systems in March, the county remains well below average for overall rainfall — about 38 percent of average since the rain season began Sept. 1.

Rain is forecast to begin falling in northern Santa Barbara County after midnight, spreading south through the rest of the county from 5 a.m. until noon, according to Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“It should be very light for the nighttime portion, and light to moderate for the morning,” Smith told Noozhawk.

Heavier rainfall is expected Friday afternoon — about 1/3 of an inch along the coast and 1/2-inch in the mountains — but likely not enough to create a significant risk of debris flows, Smith said.

There is a slight chance of thunderstorms, which could produce greater rain intensities, she said.

Overall rainfall totals from the storm are likely to be between 1/2-inch and 3/4 of an inch.

Partly cloudy skies are in the forecast Saturday into Monday, with another period of wet weather Tuesday through Thursday next week, Smith said.

“It looks fairly certain we’ll get some decent rain, and right now it looks like Thursday will be the best day,” Smith said.

The recent storms have been good for the recovery of the watersheds destroyed by recent wildfires such as the Thomas and Whittier fires, and have caused few problems in the wake of the deadly Jan. 9 debris flows. But they haven't done much for local water supplies.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Tom Fayram, the county's deputy director of water resources. “It’s a kind of tender balance in Montecito.”

While March has been the wettest month of this rain season — providing more than half the precipitation so far — overall rainfall totals are well below average.

And with the rain season drawing to an end, “it doesn’t look very promising we could get back to normal rainfall,” Fayram said.

Santa Barbara County, and most of the Central Coast, is in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

As of Thursday, Lake Cachuma — a major water supply for the South Coast as well as the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys — was at 39.1 percent of capacity.

Farther up on the Santa Ynez River, the city of Santa Barbara’s Gibraltar Reservoir was at 44.3 percent full, while the Montecito Water’s District’s Jameson Reservoir was at 57 percent, as of Thursday.

» Click here for the latest forecast.

» Click here for real-time rainfall totals.

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» Click here for the Ready Santa Barbara County website.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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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