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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 5:54 pm | Partly Cloudy 54º


Line of Intense Thunderstorms Hammers Goleta, Isla Vista

Lightning strikes lead to tree fires, power outages; scattered showers expected through Thursday

A rain gutter overflows at a western Goleta house Wednesday evening as a narrow band of thunderstorms hammered the area.
A rain gutter overflows at a western Goleta house Wednesday evening as a narrow band of thunderstorms hammered the area. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

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A narrow band of intense thunderstorms moved through western Goleta on Wednesday evening, punctuated by loud thunder and brief but intense downpours.

Lightning strikes on power poles and trees, and power outages were reported at numerous locations throughout Goleta, according to emergency radio traffic.

Hail peppered the Storke Ranch neighborhood off Storke Road near Camino Real Marketplace.

The line of thunderstorms gradually moved east. Although thunder could be heard over Santa Barbara and Montecito, only scattered sprinkles were reported.

Some 700 customers were without power in western Goleta and Isla Vista, according to the Southern California Edison Co. outage map.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department crews responded at 6 p.m. to a report of a palm tree on fire in the 300 block of Mathilda Drive in Goleta, near an apartment complex in the Ellwood neighborhood.

An upper-level low-pressure system was creating instability, and was expected to produce scattered showers and thunderstorms, according to meteorologist Joe Sirard with the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.

Lightning struck a palm tree on Mathilda Drive in Ellwood on Wednesday, sending sparkings showering toward nearby apartment buildings. Click to view larger
Lightning struck a palm tree on Mathilda Drive in Ellwood on Wednesday, sending sparkings showering toward nearby apartment buildings. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

Thunderstorms were seen in the Santa Barbara County mountains and interior San Luis Obispo County earlier Wednesday, with some locally heavy downpours reported.

“Right now it’s concentrated more on the South Coast,”​ Sirard said Wednesday night.

Rainfall amounts could range from hardly anything to a half-inch before the system moves out of the area, he said.

“It’s going to be meandering over the area for a couple of days,” Sirard added.

Around the Central Coast, residents excitedly reported sounds of thunder and sightings of rain or lightning on social media.

At least one Goleta family was searching for a missing pet Thursday night, however. The dog, a white terrier mix named Ruby, apparently was spooked by the thunder and ran off from Salisbury Avenue, near the northbound Highway 101 exit at Winchester Canyon Road.

More unsettled weather could be in store for Thursday.

“We’re going to have hit and miss showers and thunderstorms through Thursday evening,” Sirard said.

During the day Wednesday, firefighters on the northeastern edge of the county were busy responding to fires sparked by lightning, including one estimated at a tenth of an acre and involving county Fire Station 41 in New Cuyama.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

» Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

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

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.

(Zack Warburg / Noozhawk video)

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