Storm prompts mandatory evacuations
Rainfall with the potential to cause debris flows prompted an evacuation order for thousands of people below the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa burn areas.
The order by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office takes effect at 10 a.m. today, and includes 1,510 parcels, or about 3,600 people, from Carpinteria to the Gaviota Coast to near Lake Cachuma. The bulk are in the Montecito area.
This is the first such order since March 2018.
To view the evacuation order map, go toReadysbc.org.
A Red Cross shelter is scheduled to open at 10 at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave., in Goleta. For assistance evacuating animals, call county Animal Services at 681-4332.
El Montecito Pre-School and Crane Country Day School will be closed, with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Montecito Union and Laguna Blanca Lower schools on alternate site schedules.
All other schools are to remain open.
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, which was closed for about five months after the Jan. 9, 2018, mudslides in Montecito, was informing guests at the seaside resort that, for their safety, they would have to leave by 10 a.m., said Emilie Plouchart, director of public relations. Guests arriving today were also notified about the order.
The Montecito Inn, which also suffered damage in last year’s mudslides, is again under the mandatory evacuation order.
The order, issued around 5 p.m. Monday, came on a day of severe weather on the South Coast that included power outages, fallen trees and a sandstorm along Cabrillo Boulevard.
“Apocalyptic” is how residents of one multi-unit home on De la Vina Street described waking up to the sound of an “explosion” and bright flash Monday after a 50-foot pine tree toppled by fierce winds took out power lines, crushed their front-yard gate and trapped several cars as it fell across the two-lane road around 6 a.m.
Soon after, near Stearns Wharf, beach sand, driven by what the National Weather Service said were winds hitting almost 60 mph, blew across the roadway into restaurants and hotels, a scene reminiscent of those towns back east that make the TV news for their blinding snowstorms.
“Thank God for eyelashes,” Steve Barr, 72, told the News-Press as he braved the sandstorm, eyes squinting, while walking home near Sambo’s after having dropped off his car at the shop. “You see the sand that’s blowing in the buildings here? You don’t usually see that.”
“This is not a boring time to be walking in Santa Barbara.”
Boring is not a word anyone would use to describe the weather on Monday.
The day began with an advisory over southeast winds 15 to 30 mph, and gusts to 40.
Keily Delerme at the Weather Service office in Oxnard said winds of 53 mph were recorded at Gaviota. But the highest wind recorded in Santa Barbara that morning was 59 mph at the beach. (City public works crews said it was more like 70.)
Either way, the sandstorm was an unusual sight for Santa Barbara.
A mile away, on the east side of De la Vina Street at De la Guerra Street, slabs of a of sidewalk were upended and a 25 mph speed limit sign knocked to the ground when the pine tree, which crews estimated to be at least 50 years old, crashed down on wires and a power pole on the other side of De la Vina just before 6 a.m.
“I’m in the back of the house and I wake up to this loud noise, what I thought was a lightning strike,” Kevin Cody, 35, told the News-Press from the yard of a home near De la Guerra Street. A fire started almost immediately because of the arcing wires.
“Even in the back of the house you could see the flames,” he said. “I come out here because I figure, ‘Oh! It’s not a lightning strike.’ “
The intersection is an issue for the residents, some of whom were gathered on the porch, Mr. Cody said, generally because of collisions or falling tree branches — something they say the city is loathe to address.
On this day, an entire tree fell.
“One of our housemates’ cars is currently being held under by the tree,” Mr. Cody said, motioning to the other men. “One of the other housemates, his car is questionable because we can’t see it.”
Mr. Cody and a couple others park away from the trees, and their cars were just as they had left them the night before.
The front-yard gate didn’t fare as well, getting crushed by the tree. Mr. Cody’s girlfriend had to use a ladder to get over the chain-link fence to get on with her day.
The downed tree caused one of several power outages for Southern California Edison customers, including for Mr. Cody’s place. But he took it in stride.
“Luckily, I got enough candles and (battery-powered) lights in my room. I’m the outdoorsy guy who’s always prepared.”
As some of the housemates mingled on the porch waiting for crews to clear the trees, one of them called out that the flash was so bright and the sound so loud, “It was apocalyptic!”
SCE spokeswoman Susan Cox said about 5,000 customers in the Santa Barbara area were without power because of three incidents, beginning at 6:04 a.m. The first initially affected 1,412 customers, with 372 still in the dark as of about 2 p.m.
About 400 lost power at 7:56 a.m., and another 3,352 at 11:11 a.m. By 2 p.m., customers affected by these incidents numbered 397 and 1,345, respectively.
The first two were attributed to bad overhead equipment, Ms. Cox said. She did not have a cause for the third outage.
The Weather Service’s Ms. Delerme said the forecast for today includes heavy widespread downpours and isolated thunderstorms over coastal areas. Widespread moderate to heavy rain is possible today, with 2 to 4 inches in Santa Barbara County, most over the mountains.
Calmer weather is expected tonight, with a break early Wednesday before a storm of similar intensity expected Wednesday evening, authorities said. AccuWeather forecasts more than 4 inches of rain Wednesday.
A high surf advisory for the South Coast is in effect until 9 p.m. today, while a flash-flood watch for the burn areas in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties is in effect noon to 8 p.m. today. Rainfall rates from one-half to one inch per hour are possible.