County returns to “Moderate Drought” status
Rainfall is set to return to the South Coast this week, as the county is expected to receive upwards of one inch of rain Tuesday through Thursday.
Partly cloudy but mostly clear conditions are forecast today and Monday, though a cold storm system is expected to move through the region Monday night into Tuesday morning and bring increased clouds over Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
The front is expected to push inland Tuesday afternoon, bringing an increasing chance of rain through the day.
The system is expected to move inland Wednesday night, or it could remain just off the coast around Point Conception, weather officials said.
The main frontal and will move through the county Tuesday night into Wednesday, with rain and mountain snow expected. Weather models are showing that Wednesday could be “more of a showery pattern” which will linger through Thursday or later in the week.
A 70% chance of rain is forecast Tuesday night, and a 60% chance of rain is expected on Wednesday, according to the weather service.
Early estimates show the county receiving between a half-inch and one inch of rain, with up to 1.33 inches in higher elevations. There is also the potential for decent amounts of snow, possibly six to 12 inches or more for higher mountains and some light accumulations down to 3,500 feet.
With the wet weather, roadways are expected to be slick, and minor street flooding is possible. In addition, wintry driving conditions are expected in the mountains, with poor visibility and snow covered roads in and around Interstate 5 over the Grapevine and across the higher foothills of the Antelope Valley, weather officials said.
Conditions are expected to clear up by Friday morning.
The wet weather will certainly be welcomed locally. Santa Barbara County had been classified as “Abnormally Dry” for the month of February, but has since returned to the “Moderate Drought” status, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
According to officials, nearly 91% of the state is considered in “Moderate Drought” status, with nearly 57% of the state under “Severe” and about 30% in “Extreme.”
As of Thursday morning, Santa Barbara County has received just 54% of “normal-to-date” rainfall, and just 40% of the “normal water-year” rainfall.
Areas like Santa Barbara have accumulated just under 5.5 inches of rain this water year, which started Sept. 1, 2020 and runs through Aug. 31, 2021, according to the county Public Works Department. That total is about 40% of what the city receives by this time of year, and just 30% of normal for the water year.
Goleta has received 7.8 inches of rain this water year (42% of normal), Santa Maria has received 6.04 inches (45% of normal) and Lompoc has registered 9.52 inches (65% of normal), according to the data.
The latest numbers showed Lake Cachuma at 63.1% capacity, as the reservoir is holding 122,025 acre-feet of water. Gibraltar Reservoir was at just 13.5% capacity (615 acre-feet of water), Jameson was at 74.5% (3,611 acre-feet), and Twitchell was at 1.6% capacity, holding 3,137 acre-feet.