Snow lands on San Marcos Pass; rain likely everywhere today
Snow has fallen in Santa Barbara County, and it’s not just on the mountain tops.
In fact, Caltrans had to bring in snow plows Thursday afternoon to clear State Route 154 after a heavy amount of snow left drivers briefly standed near the 2,200-foot summit on San Marcos Pass.
The California Highway Patrol shut down State Route 154 in both directions, but later reopened it. Motorists are advised to watch for possible further closures.
Earlier, the tops of the Santa Ynez Mountains received a light dusting of snow. And light sleet was seen falling Thursday afternoon at Painted Cave Road and West Camino Cielo in Santa Barbara.
Flood watch alerts are in effect with rain expected today. Some precipitation fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
It not only looked like winter, it felt like it, with highs in the low to mid 50s throughout the county. The lows were in the 40s and mid to upper 30s.
Winter weather conditions are expected to continue to last through Saturday, with extreme cold temperatures, continued wind, localized flooding, snow at higher elevations and possible, isolated thunderstorms throughout the county.
That’s according to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, which says no evacuations were being issued as of Thursday.
The National Weather Service said a blizzard warning for the county’s interior mountains would remain in effect through 4 p.m. Saturday. The weather service also said a winter weather advisory is in effect until 10 tonight in the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Cuyama Valley.
Besides the snow, Santa Barbara County saw some rain on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The rest of day saw partly cloudy skies, but some sprinkles fell as the News-Press went to press Thursday evening.
Santa Maria apparently saw the most rain in the county, with 0.25 inch reported by the National Weather Service for a 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Thursday. For the same period, Lompoc saw 0.19 inch of rain; Santa Barbara, 0.1 inch; Goleta, 0.08 inch; New Cuyama, 0.03 inch; and Santa Ynez, 0.01 inch.
Most of that rain during that 24-hour period fell during Wednesday night or not long after dawn on Thursday.
A bigger constant was the cold.
During the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Thursday, highs were 55 for Goleta, 53 in Santa Barbara, 52 in Santa Maria and a brisk 46 degrees in both Santa Ynez and New Cuyama.
Lows were 42 in Santa Barbara, 39 in Goleta, and 36 in both Santa Ynez and Santa Maria. New Cuyama went below freezing with a low of 29.
The cold will continue. The National Weather Service predicts highs in the low to mid 50s today and Saturday throughout Santa Barbara County.
And the lows are expected to hover near freezing: 36 today at UCSB, 38 in both Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, 41 in Lompoc and chilly 34 in Santa Ynez. Cuyama will go below freezing with a projected low of 31.
Expect more of the same on Saturday.
The National Weather Service has no doubt that it will rain today. The chance of rain is 90% to 100%, according to the weather service, which has said today would be a heavier one for the storm.
The weather service has issued multiple flood watches for the county’s interior mountains, the Santa Ynez mountains and coastal areas from Point Conception through Carpinteria.
The flood watches are in effect from 4 a.m. today to 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the weather service.
The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management reminds residents in areas prone to flooding or in or below burn areas to stay aware of changing conditions.
Residents in those areas should be prepared to take actions such as moving to high ground, said Jackie Ruiz, the office’s public information officer.
Ms. Ruiz also noted drivers should proceed carefully through wet and snowy road conditions and to avoid areas and roadways that appear to be flooding. If possible, stay off those roads entirely, she said.
Strong winds can cause outages, so the Office of Emergency Management advises people to charge important electronic devices and be prepared in case an unannounced outage occurs.
The National Weather Service says the storm will ease up on Saturday, where “showers” are predicted instead of the more severe description of “rain.”
Partly cloudy skies are predicted for Sunday, but the National Weather Service expects rain to return on Monday.