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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 6:03 am | Fair 50º


Snow Is Prelude to Frosty New Year’s in Santa Barbara County

Freeze watch, warnings issued as temperatures at or below freezing are expected in most areas

A shelter protects a Santa Barbara County fire truck from snow falling Tuesday afternoon in New Cuyama. (Greg Nuckols / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

It's cold and it's getting colder in Santa Barbara County.

Residents and visitors planning to head out to ring in the New Year on Wednesday night could be faced with sub-freezing temperatures in many areas, according to the National Weather Service.

As a prelude to the frosty New Year's Eve, snow was falling Tuesday afternoon in New Cuyama in the county's remote northeast corner.

Photos of the white stuff were posted on the Santa Barbara County Fire Department's Facebook page by crews at Station 41 in New Cuyama.

There also were reports of snow flurries along the Santa Ynez Range Tuesday evening.

Forecasters issued a Freeze Warning for the Santa Maria area from 1 a.m. until 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist with the weather service office in Oxnard.

A Freeze Warning means temperatures between 29 and 32 degrees for at least two consecutive hours are imminent.

Measures should be taken to protect crops and sensitive vegetation, and vulnerable animals and pets should be kept indoors in a house or barn. Exposed pipes should be wrapped to keep them from bursting.

The low overnight Wednesday in Santa Maria was expected to be 29 degrees, Bartling said.

In Santa Barbara, forecasters were predicting a low of 29 degrees overnight Wednesday.

A Hard Freeze Watch will be in effect for Santa Barbara and much of the county from 1 a.m. until 9 a.m. Thursday. A Hard Freeze Watch means several hours of temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees are possible. Cold-protection measures are strongly encouraged.

A Wind Watch also was issued for communities along the South Coast, including Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria, with possible gusts to 60 mph.

High temperatures for New Year’s Day will be around 60 degrees, Bartling said, while the overnight lows will linger in the mid to upper 30s.

“It’s a very cold low-pressure system coming down from Canada,” she said, “so it’s going to be cold.”

A Hard Freeze Warning will be in effect after midnight Wednesday in the Santa Ynez Valley, with a low temperature of 27 expected.

Bartling said snow could fall in the mountains above Los Angeles, but she didn’t expect much on Santa Barbara’s mountains.

The cold front will bring a chance of light, scattered showers to the area, although Bartling said forecasters were predicting less than a tenth of an inch.

The record low for New Year’s Eve in Santa Maria is 27 degrees, set in 1975, and Santa Barbara’s low of 28 was set in 1990, Bartling said.

In response to the expected temperature drop, the county’s Freedom Warming Centers will open for those without shelter.

North County Warming Centers will open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights at Peace Lutheran Church, 100 W. Ocean Ave. in Lompoc, and at the Salvation Army, 200 W. Cook St. in Santa Maria.

South County warming centers will be open Wednesday and Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St. in Santa Barbara, the Veterans Memorial Hall at 941 Walnut Ave. in Carpinteria, and at University United Methodist Church at 892 Camino Del Sur in Isla Vista.

[Click here for the latest forecast]

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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.

A National Weather Service map shows the expected wind-chill readings for Tuesday night throughout the region.

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