For the third weekend in a row, the Santa Barbara area was drilled by wild weather. A fast-moving front swept through the South Coast on Saturday, bringing with it a modest amount of rain and gusty south winds. And, though sunny skies prevailed by Sunday, the atypical weather was just beginning. Palm Sunday saw some of the biggest surf to date this year slam into the coast with equally impressive north and northwest winds, including gusts above 80 miles per hour in the foothills above Montecito.
All told, according to Santa Barbara County Flood Control rain gauges, the early spring storm dropped a maximum of 0.66 inches of rain (on Figueroa Mountain) with most areas getting a little more than a quarter inch. However, even after the trifecta of rainy weekends, the county remains at roughly 57 percent of its annual rainfall, meaning it’s in a “moderate drought,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
And while the rain was met with open arms by farmers, it was the surf that showed up around sunrise on Sunday that had surfers rejoicing. A large northwest swell sent waves with faces in the 8- to 10-foot range to many area beaches, a late-season treat that had beach parking lots from Rincon to Gaviota jammed with hungry wave riders.
On Sunday evening, with the National Weather Service issuing a wind advisory, the north, northwest winds, which were blowing for much of the day, picked up in earnest with things getting particularly blustery an hour or two before midnight. Sustained wind speeds of nearly 50 mph were reported in several areas throughout the South Coast, with the highest gust of 83 mph coming just before 11 p.m. in the hills above Montecito. As a result of the wind, sporadic power outages were reported throughout Santa Barbara on Sunday, including an outage that impacted some 3,500 Southern California Edison customers in the Upper State Street/Las Positas area between 6 and 9 p.m.
According to the National Weather Service, Santa Barbara should an enjoy a return to its typically sunny and mild weather this week with highs nearing 70 degrees on Tuesday.