6 to 10 inches possible in higher elevations through Thursday morning
A series of storm systems taking aim at Southern California could dump 6 to 10 inches of rainfall through Thursday, bringing the threat of mud and debris flows and the fear of evacuations for residents who live near recent burn areas.
After brief heavy downpours dropped nearly 2 inches of rain overnight Friday, an additional 1 to 3 inches of rainfall could hit the South Coast overnight through Monday afternoon.
Two additional systems, each packing 1 to 3 inches, will hit the area Tuesday and Thursday, according to forecasters.
A 40 percent chance of showers is forecast today after 10 a.m. An 80 percent chance of rain is forecast overnight and a 90 percent chance of rain is forecast for Monday, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
“There will be quite a bit of rain,” said Ryan Adamson, meteorologist with Accuweather. “This is the time of year where typically a majority of the rain falls, but even with that said it will be pretty excessive.”
The strong storms were expected to bring the possibility of mud and debris flows near recent burn scars and cause roadway flooding.
On Friday Santa Barbara County issued a warning of possible evacuations, but on Saturday officials said evacuations are not imminent.
“No evacuations foreseen in next several days,” Gina DePinto, county spokeswoman, told the News-Press in an email.
“Rainfall intensities for this storm are forecasted to remain below debris flow thresholds; however, residents are strongly encouraged to stay alert to changing conditions,” read a message from the county’s Aware & Prepare alert system issued Saturday.
Rainfall rates that could trigger debris flow are 0.8 inches per hour, which could occur on several occasions this week, including Tuesday and Thursday when rates could exceed 1 inch per hour, Mr. Adamson said.
As of Saturday morning, several areas within Santa Barbara County had received more than 4 inches of rain in January. The Santa Barbara County Administration Building has received 3.85 inches of rain through Saturday, already exceeding the monthly average of 3.5 inches, Mr. Adamson said.
Only 0.5 inches of rain were recorded at the Adminstration Building in December, well short of the average of 2.94 inches, he added.
No major damage was reported following Friday’s showers, but county officials were keeping a close eye on the forecast for the upcoming week.
“Next storms to be watched closely,” Tom Fayram, deputy Public Works director, said in an email.
Looking ahead, as conditions clear up Thursday a dry pattern is expected to set in and last for several days, Mr. Adamson said.
A high surf advisory issued early Saturday for the South Coast was set to expire at noon today. Breaking waves of 4 to 7 feet on exposed west-facing beaches were expected, according to the Weather Service.
Preceding the arrival of wet weather, the U.S. Drought Monitor report issued Tuesday showed Santa Barbara County’s drought status improve from extreme to severe. Portions of the county had been under the extreme drought declaration since mid-November.