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Local News

Wednesday’s Rain a Prelude to Major Storm On the Way

Sandbag stations open as county prepares for heavy rain and potential mudslides

Don’t put those umbrellas away.

While Santa Barbara County got a modest dousing Wednesday, forecasters say it was just a prelude to a bigger storm expected to soak the region Thursday and Friday and linger through the weekend. 

This week brings the first significant storms of the winter, and there were several weather-related accidents on Wednesday, including a fatal head-on collision that closed Highway 154 for several hours.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday, rainfall totals varied widely throughout the region — from just over a thirds of an inch in Buellton to more than 2.47 inches on San Marcos Pass.

Santa Barbara recorded 1.73 inches, Goleta measured 1.72 inches, Carpinteria had 1.31 inches, and Montecito received 1.58 inches.

In the North County, Santa Maria had 0.21 inches, Lompoc recorded 0.65 inches, and Santa Ynez received 0.41 inches.

And forecasters say much more is on the way.

Southern Santa Barbara County most likely will see the heaviest rain in the foothills and mountains, with 2 to 4 inches, while the coastal areas should get 1 to 2 inches by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasts show an 80-percent chance of rain on Thursday night and a 100-percent chance of heavy rain on Friday, with showers continuing through Sunday.

Nighttime lows weren't expected to drop below 50 degrees and daytime highs should be in the low 60s for the rest of the week, with wind gusts as high as 30 mph from Thursday night through Friday night.

Forecasters were calling for strong winds as well as high surf and strong rip currents south of Point Conception Thursday through Sunday.

The National Weather Service also said there is potential for gale-force winds on coastal waters.

There’s a threat of mudslides and rockslides with the heavy rainfall in such a short period of time, so the Santa Barbara County Fire Department is offering sandbags to residents in anticipation of the inclement weather.

They’ll be located at the Santa Maria Road Yard on Foster Road, the Santa Ynez Airport’s County Fire Station No. 32, County Fire Station No. 14 at 320 N. Los Carneros in Goleta and the County Yard at the Transfer Station at 4430 Calle Real.

The city of Santa Barbara doesn’t open its sandbag station unless there’s a flash flood warning issued by the National Weather Service, City Fire Capt. Gary Pitney said. If that happens, Public Works will offer sandbags for free at the Corporate Annex Yard at 401 E. Yanonali St.

The city’s emergency services worked with local merchants to develop a list of places residents can buy sandbags now, with availability updated on Wednesday, Pitney said.

» Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center, 415 E. Gutierrez St., 805.963.7825; filled: $2.79 each

» Santa Barbara Stone, 27 N. Nopal St., 805.963.5891; filled: $2.95 each, and delivery available for $95 per load any quantity

» Goleta Building Materials, 91 Frederick Lopez Road, 805.967.5413; filled: $2.75 each, and delivery available for $75 per load

» Bedrock Building Supplies, 208 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, 805.899.3524; filled: $3 each, or $2.70 for 50 or more

» OSH, 125 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta, 805.681.1500; filled: $2.59 each, empty: 69 cents

» Home Depot, 6975 Market Drive in Goleta, 805.961.4746; empties only 69 cents each; no filled sandbags

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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