Mission Creek flows under Mission Street in Santa Barbara Friday afternoon.
A rain-swollen Mission Creek flows under Mission Street in Santa Barbara on Friday afternoon. Credit: Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo

Another rainstorm with flooding potential is on the way to Santa Barbara County, just a few days after an atmospheric river weather event that swelled local creeks and rivers and flooded low-lying roadways.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the county from 7 a.m. Tuesday through 5 a.m. Wednesday.

NWS forecasters say there is potential for another 2 to 4 inches of rain and up to 8 inches of rain in foothill and mountain areas.

The heaviest rain will hit Santa Barbara County on Tuesday afternoon, between noon and 6 p.m., according to the NWS.

On Monday afternoon, NWS forecasters said this will be a very wet storm, and to expect significant road and creek flooding.

Credit: National Weather Service

This storm will deliver more rain than the typical winter storm, and rainfall rates could be as high as 1 inch per hour, which increases the risk of mudslides and debris flows, the NWS said.

“The ground is saturated, so runoff will occur quicker than usual, resulting in faster onset of road flooding and mud and rock slides,” the NWS said in its Sunday forecast discussion.

Most Santa Barbara County areas have received 1 to 3 inches of rain in the past week, and the reservoirs along the Santa Ynez River are full, including Jameson Reservoir, Gibraltar Reservoir and Lake Cachuma.

The county had received 200% of its “normal-to-date” rainfall as of Sunday.

Emergency management officials at the county sent out messaging this weekend about the upcoming storm and the flood watch issued by the NWS. Visit the county’s emergency preparedness and response site at readysbc.org, where residents also can sign up for alerts.

No evacuation warnings or orders were announced as of Sunday.

Credit: National Weather Service

Here is the alert sent out Sunday by the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management:

“A FLOOD WATCH has been issued for Santa Barbara County effective at 9 AM Tuesday, March 14th through 5 AM Wednesday, March 15th. Avoid low-lying and flood-prone areas, areas with standing water, and areas near creeks or streams. If you are in one of these areas be prepared to go to higher ground. Visit www.weather.gov/lox for more information.

“Another rain system is expected to arrive in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

“Rainfall is predicted to start Tuesday morning and remain consistent through Wednesday morning.

“Current forecasts indicate this storm is likely to cause excessive runoff which may result in dangerous flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low lying and flood prone areas.

“Residents should take steps to prepare ahead of the storm. https://www.countyofsb.org/576/Storm-Readiness.

“If you are concerned that this storm may cause unsafe conditions to your home, leave the area before rain starts. Do not wait for an official evacuation notification to leave.

“If you feel unsafe during the rainfall, shelter in place in your home by gathering your family and pets in the inner most room of your house, preferably on the top floor if you live in a multi-story home.

“Do not attempt to drive at night or while it is raining, as roads may be damaged and your car may be swept away by moving water or debris.

“Public safety officials are keeping a close eye on the incoming storm. Officials will continue to work together to further assess if emergency protective actions are necessary, such as an evacuation warning, evacuation order, or shelter in place.”

Visit the Caltrans Quickmap site for highway status and closure information here.

Visit the county’s Public Works website for local road conditions and closures here.

Click here for a list of sandbag filling stations.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.