National Weather Service says heavy rain fell but during short durations that cut rainfall totals
San Antonio Creek overflowed a crossing Tuesday at Tucker’s Grove Park near Santa Barbara as rain pounded the South Coast.
On Tuesday morning, Santa Barbara County issued evacuation orders for the Alisal Fire, Cave Fire and Thomas Fire burn areas.
The county Office of Emergency Management didn’t mince words at readysbc.org: “Flooding and debris flow hazards exist due to the storm. Leave now.”
But as of 5:30 p.m., the county canceled those orders with Raquel Zick, the public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, noting, “Be aware the flooding and debris may be still present in the area.”
A flood advisory was scheduled to end by 10 p.m. Tuesday in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.
Between 4 p.m. Monday and 4 p.m. Tuesday, a little over 2 inches of rain fell in Goleta. More than 2 inches of rain was also reported in Santa Barbara.
“So far the storm has been underwhelming locally as the first impulse has moved through much faster than anticipated across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties,” the National Weather Service said Tuesday afternoon. “Rain rates around a half inch per hour have been observed, but only for short durations, which has significantly cut into rainfall totals there.”
During the same 24-hour period, the National Weather Service reported 1.22 inch of rain fell in Santa Maria and 1.18 inch in Lompoc. Things were drier in New Cuyama, which experienced 0.52 inch of rain and Santa Ynez, which saw 0.24 inch.
Heavy amounts of water were seen flowing at Montecito Creek, and California Conservation Corps members filled sandbags at Lower Manning Park in Montecito.
Along with the rain came fast wind. In fact, a big eucalyptus tree — a victim of the windy and rainy conditions — fell over a bridge that crosses Tecolote Creek near The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort in Goleta.
Throughout the South Coast, small ponds emerged on street corners, with pedestrians doing their best to navigate around the water that kept flowing. Sometimes they just had to take a leap of faith — literally.
The storm was expected to end early this morning. Before the News-Press went to press on Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service said there could be a burst of rain overnight, which it said was more likely for the South Coast than North County.
The storms have made a big difference in local reservoirs. On Tuesday afternoon, the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department reported these elevation figures: 747.18 feet at Lake Cachuma, 600.73 feet at Alisal Reservoir, 1,400.27 feet at Gibraltar Reservoir and 2,224.38 feet at Jameson Reservoir.
In anticipation of the storm, Santa Barbara Unified School District campuses, schools in Montecito and the Santa Barbara City College campuses were closed Tuesday. The same schools planned to reopen today.
People were determined to be prepared for the storm. Customers on Monday stocked up on supplies at Costco in Goleta. The crowd was big enough that one shopper remarked that it seemed more like a Sunday, a traditionally busier day for Costco than a Monday.
And all the rain discouraged drivers from going on the road. Traffic was lighter than usual on Highway 101 in Montecito, Santa Barbara and Goleta.
The storm is warmer than the one on Jan. 9. Highs on Tuesday were the upper 50s throughout Santa Barbara County, and most of the lows were in the mid-50s.
“Dry and warmer weather is expected Thursday and Friday with a chance of light precipitation over the weekend,” the National Weather Service said Tuesday afternoon.
One fringe benefit of the recent rains is De la Guerra Plaza. The formerly brown, formerly thin grass at the Santa Barbara park was green and lush on Tuesday.