A tornado warning, numerous road closures, and fallen trees accompanied the powerful winter storm that slammed into Santa Barbara County on Friday.
The North County saw the heaviest rain Friday morning as the system moved south and began dousing Goleta, Santa Barbara and Montecito later in the day.
A Flash Flood Warning was issued at about 2:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. as heavy rain continued to spread across the county.
“Between 3 and 6 inches of rain have fallen. Additional rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible in the warned area,” according to the warning, which will be in effect until 10 p.m.
“Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly. Flash flooding will be limited to locations below snow levels, which will fall from 4,500 feet to 3,000 feet tonight. Flash flooding is expected to worsen into the evening hours.”
Rain was expected to continue overnight into Saturday, with Sunday slated to be dry, according to the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist David Gombert told Noozhawk that rainfall rates could be as high as 1 inch per hour, and there is a slight chance of thunderstorms and small hail.
Additionally, the blizzard warning in the mountains will continue through 4 p.m. Saturday.
The county’s wettest spot as of 10 p.m. was Gibraltar Reservoir with 8.23 inches of rain in the previous 24 hours.
Other impressive 24-hour rainfall totals included Lake Cachuma with 6.72 inches; Alisal Reservoir, 5.33 inches; Los Alamos, 5.13 inches; Lompoc City Hall, 4.97 inches; and Solvang, 4.83 inches, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department.
Other 24-hour rainfall totals were 2.08 in Santa Barbara, 1.73 inches in Goleta, 2.41 inches in Carpinteria, 1.97 inches in Montecito, 2.36 inches in Santa Maria, 2.48 inches in Orcutt and 1.61 inches at UCSB.
Some areas of North County saw rare notices, including a tornado warning for Casmalia issued at midmorning by the National Weather Service.
Later, the agency issued a special weather statement advising of winds up to 55 mph and possible pea-sized hail for Lompoc, Buellton and Gaviota. That notice expired early Friday afternoon.
At about 8:30 p.m., the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported that “inflow into Lake Cachuma has rapidly increased.”
The bureau, which controls the reservoir, said that he was releasing 20,000 cubic feet per second over the lake’s spillway at Bradbury Dam.
“Flows are fast and cold; heed extreme caution downstream on the #SantaYnezRiver,” the bureau said in a tweet.
At the Santa Barbara Airport, several inbound commercial flights were diverted or delayed Friday night, reportedly because the weather conditions had fallen below the minimum conditions for aircraft making instrument approaches.
Elsewhere, a large tree at Anapamu and Nopal streets in Santa Barbara toppled Friday afternoon, taking down utility lines and causing a power outage in the area.
No injuries were reported, but there reportedly were two vehicles crushed under the tree.
Crews also were busy dealing with reports of other fallen trees, including one into a home in Orcutt.
At Waller Park near Santa Maria, a large branch broke off a huge tree near the front duck pond, and on Highway 246, emergency crews investigated a report that another large branch fell from one of the trees in the Buell Flats area between Buellton and Solvang.
As rains fell, multiple key roads closed due to a number of troubles.
Highway 166 between Maricopa and Highway 101 shut down for a short time due to mudslides and road flooding.
Highway 1 closed between Black and Solomon roads. Another segment of Highway 1 was closed between Oso Flaco Road and Division Road due to flooding, according to Caltrans.
And approximately 9 miles of Highway 135 south of Orcutt closed from Bell Street to San Antonio Road East due to flooding.
Additionally, Highway 101 drivers may notice some increased traffic, including trucks, due to the closure of Interstate 5 at the Grapevine north of Los Angeles.
Caltrans crews were working to remove several inches of snow and ice from the roadway, but there was no estimate of when the road might reopen, officials said.
More rain is in the forecast again for next week.
Residents Advised to Avoid Contact with Stormwater
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and Environmental Health Services are advising residents to avoid contact with untreated stormwater and runoff at beaches, creeks and other waterways due to potential health risks.
“Contact with storm water while swimming or surfing may increase the risk for certain types of illnesses such as rashes, fever, chills, ear infections, vomiting, and diarrhea,” Environmental Health Services said in a news release Friday afternoon.
“To minimize potential health risks, it is recommended that people do not swim, play or surf in the ocean and creeks for at least three days following a rain event.”
It was also noted that sport harvesters should wait at least 10 days following significant rain to harvest shellfish.
Noozhawk Executive Editor Tom Bolton contributed to this report.