Late-Winter Rainmaker

Just days before this week’s Spring Equinox, a much-needed late-season winter storm rolled through the South Coast over the weekend, bringing rain, wind, hail, and even some snow to the foothills above Santa Barbara. The rain started falling just before midnight on Friday with the heaviest downpours coming in the predawn hours of Saturday. Showers continued off and on throughout the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, with the best views of snow on the Santa Ynez Mountains coming early Sunday morning. The latter even included a light dusting of flakes on Montecito Peak.

All told, nearly four inches of rain fell on San Marcos Pass, 1.7 inches came down in Santa Barbara proper, Goleta got 1.1 inches, and Buellton 1.66 inches. Though the rain was certainly a much-needed bonus after such a dry winter, even after this past weekend’s storm, Lake Cachuma has seen only 51 percent of its annual average while Santa Barbara has seen only 49 percent. The precipitation fell in short, intense bursts, and was accompanied by high winds — two factors that work against the rainfall actually soaking into the ground. According to the National Weather Service, mostly clear skies should prevail until Saturday, March 24, when a chance of rain once again enters the forecast.

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