Evacuations possible this weekend
A series of storms is set to move through the South Coast tonight through Tuesday, bringing the potential for evacuation orders this weekend.
The first storm is expected to arrive on the Central Coast late tonight. The bulk of local rainfall is expected early Thursday through Thursday afternoon. As much as 2 inches of rain is expected for higher elevations and Santa Barbara mountains, with up to three-quarters of an inch for coastal areas, weather officials said.
A slight chance of thunderstorms is forecast Thursday morning, which could enhance rainfall totals, said Kathy Hoxsie, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
An 80 percent chance of rain is forecast tonight. A 90 percent chance of precipitation is forecast Thursday, according to the Weather Service.
Rainfall rates are expected to be below debris flow thresholds for recent burn areas, according to an Aware and Prepare alert issued Wednesday by Santa Barbara County.
After a break in the rain Friday morning, a more significant and moisture-laden system is expected to move through the area Friday night into Saturday. That system has the potential to drop 1 to 3 inches of rain across Santa Barbara County, with as much as 4.5 inches possible in higher elevations, said Carl Erickson, senior meteorologist with Accuweather.
Rainfall rates of 0.5 inches to 0.75 inches per hour are expected over a 12-hour period, slightly below the debris flow threshold of 0.8 inches per hour for the Thomas Fire burn area, weather officials said.
County officials will meet today to review the latest weather models. If predicted rainfall rates meet or exceed debris flow thresholds, the county will issue evacuation orders for areas previously identified as at-risk areas, Gina DePinto, county spokeswoman, said in an email.
Additional rainfall is expected Sunday and Monday. As of Tuesday, Ms. Hoxsie told the News-Press it was still too far out to have any rainfall estimates for that system.
Mr. Erickson said any additional rainfall would be “insignificant” compared to what the area will receive Friday into Saturday.
Between a quarter and half-inch of rain was expected Monday as small pockets of rainfall move through the area, Mr. Erickson said.
Residents are advised to sign up for emergency alerts at readysbc.org.