Heavy rainfall early Monday morning prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Flash Flood Warning for the Alisal Fire burn area of southern Santa Barbara County, and county emergency officials advised residents in Gaviota Coast communities to shelter in place.
Both warnings were lifted by 8 a.m. Monday, but people within and below the recent burn area were advised to stay alert to changing conditions because of the storm.
“Be aware that flooding and debris may still be present in the area. Never drive, swim, or walk into floodwaters. Turn around, don’t drown! Flood waters can also hide hazards such as washed out road surfaces and large rocks. Be cautious of potential rock fall when traveling roads and avoid traveling at night. Be aware of emergency and road crews in the area,” county Office of Emergency Management officials said in an emergency message.
Radar and rain gauges showed rainfall rates of 0.4 inches to 0.6 inches in 30 minutes in the burn area Monday morning.
Mud, rock and debris flows had potential to affect roads, drainages and structures in and directly below the burn area, the NWS said.
The Alisal Fire burned 16,970 acres in the Santa Ynez Mountains and along the Gaviota Coast in October 2021 and caused ongoing post-fire flooding concerns for affected communities, including Refugio Road.
Residents in those communities have been evacuated for previous storms, but before Monday’s rainfall, emergency and weather officials thought the storm had a low likelihood of producing major flooding or debris flows.
OEM officials had advised residents in and below the Alisal Fire burn area to be prepared to shelter in place and avoid nighttime driving.
As of 7:50 a.m., county rain gauges showed San Marcos Pass had received more than 2 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, and several other South Coast areas had received more than 1 inch.
Rain was expected to continue throughout the day Monday and into the evening before skies cleared up Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.