Public agencies issue advice amid winter season
Rainfall Monday marked the beginning of wetter months ahead after a dry fall.
Santa Barbara County is in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, indicating the land could benefit by regular rain.
The Santa Barbara Airport experienced 1.9 inches of rain (as of 5:30 Monday), and San Marcos Pass above Santa Barbara tracked 3.52 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Flooding caused the northbound lane of Highway 101 to close near Sheffield Drive in Montecito.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Santa Barbara County mountains that ended Monday evening. The mountains received snow and small hail Monday.
East Camino Cielo closed at Painted Cave Road because of the snow and ice. Gibraltar Road closed at Santa Barbara city limits also because of the icy roadway.
“We haven’t had any major, major injuries,” California Highway Patrol public information officer Shannan Sams said. “Expected of any time we have rain for the first time in a while, we have seen an uptick in collisions.”
He recommends people check headlights and windshield wipers before hitting the road. Drivers should look for standing water on roadways, which tends to pool on the edges of roads.
Because water reduces traction, he encourages drivers to slow down and allow extra space between them and the cars ahead.
Santa Barbara County officials outline emergency preparedness procedures at readysbc.org, should flooding occur.
Officials published a map Dec. 17 that helps residents determine their risk of debris flow from Thomas Fire damage. A total of 445 parcels in the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria areas are impacted — a lower number than previous years.
“Our take away from this year’s scientific analysis is that we are still at risk for debris flow and will be for at least five years after the Thomas Fire,” Montecito Fire Protection District Chief Kevin Taylor said in a county winter preparedness webinar.
To prepare for storms, officials recommend residents sign up for emergency alerts at readysbc.org and monitor the weather when an advisory is issued.
Homeowners can consider flood insurance and place sandbags or straw wattles to protect their property.
Officials also warn to not walk or drive into floodwaters; it’s hard to tell how deep it is. More advice is on the readysbc.org website.
Monday, the Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services Division issued a reminder to residents to avoid swimming in the ocean or creeks for about three days following rain.
Untreated stormwater running into the ocean increases the risk of getting sick. Beachgoers should also avoid areas in the paths of drains.
This advice is concurrent with a beach hazards statement issued by the National Weather Service Monday. Dangerous waves and rip currents are expected until this afternoon.