Heavy showers lead to flooded roadways, highway closures
By MITCHELL WHITE & MADISON HIRNEISEN
Roadway flooding, highway closures and a swift-water rescue kept first responders busy throughout the day on Thursday.
As rainfall descended from the sky in Santa Barbara County for the second time in as many days, several streets and corridors in North County were shut down due to flooding in the area. In addition, portions of Highway 101 were shut down on several occasions, including in the Gaviota area early in the day and further south near Olive Mill Road in Montecito later in the afternoon.
Just after 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department was dispatched to the Refugio Canyon area, after a woman became trapped near a pair of creek crossings approximately a half-mile from the 101 on the Gaviota Coast.
The department had increased staffing and equipment, which included a swift-water rescue team. The vehicle was parked between the creek crossings and was unable to cross, said Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, fire spokesman.
Fire crews were joined by California State Parks personnel who were able to make access to the woman, 26-year-old Devon Voigtsberger, and were able to bring her to safety. She was uninjured, Capt. Bertucelli said.
“The driver made the right decision and stayed put and called for assistance,” he said.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Caltrans officials announced that portions of State Route 246 would be closed through 9 a.m. today. Crews trimmed trees on Thursday to maintain public safety during the storms and are set to resume work today. Motorists were advised to use the 101 or State Route 154 as detours.
The county was pounded by rain as the storm system slid down the coast. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, the Alisal Canyon area in the Santa Ynez Valley recorded 6.74 inches of rain over a 24-hour period.
According to the county Public Works Department, other 24-hour rainfall totals included: Refugio Pass, 5.87 inches; Tecelote Canyon, 5.59 inches; Gaviota Coast, 4.12 inches; Lompoc City Hall, 3.64 inches; Goleta Fire Station, 2.77 inches; Buellton Fire Station, 2.31 inches; Santa Maria, 1.84 inches; Santa Barbara City College, 1.33 inches; and Summerland, 1.17 inches.
Rainfall is expected to continue this morning, with a 90% chance of rain expected and a chance of thunderstorms. Conditions are expected to clear out by this evening, followed by sunny conditions and temperatures in the mid- to upper-60s, according to the weather service.