The Santa Barbara Airport was in very real danger of flooding this morning before county officials gave an emergency order to breach the Goleta Slough and let it flow into the ocean.

Paul Wellman

The Santa Barbara Airport was in very real danger of flooding this morning before county officials gave an emergency order to breach the Goleta Slough and let it flow into the ocean.

Rainstorm Lands With Ferocity

Goleta Slough Nearly Floods the Airport; Many Mesa Residents without Power

Friday, February 28, 2014
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After brewing winds and some early spitting, the largest storm to hit Santa Barbara in years landed on the South Coast at about 11:30 a.m. today, bringing with it strong winds, rough waves, and waterfalls of rain. Most don’t think that it will rescue California immediately from the state’s severe drought conditions, but the deluge will certainly help. Of course, the expected four to six inches of rain and severe weather also managed to wreak an expected level of havoc on streets and in neighborhoods all around Santa Barbara, with fallen trees and power outages reported in multiple areas.

It takes more than a flooded bike path to keep UCSB physics grad student Katharine Hyatt from going to class.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

It takes more than a flooded bike path to keep UCSB physics grad student Katharine Hyatt from going to class.

Earlier this morning, City Fire crews were dispatched to the 700 block of Carpinteria Street to deal with a transformer incident that caused power issues in the area and trapped a group of people in a nearby elevator. Around the same time, live power lines fell on a building and into the road near Casique and Milpas streets. No injuries were reported. Also this morning, a tree fell on an unoccupied car in the 1900 block of State Street, and another tree collapsed into power lines in the 3100 block of Cliff Drive on the Mesa. Currently, more than 950 Southern California Edison customers on the Mesa are without power. According to Edison’s online outage center, repair crews have been notified and are working on the problem. Toward the west end of Isla Vista, around 200 residents are currently without power.

From midnight last night to noon today, 1.55 inches of rain had fallen at the Santa Barbara Airport, 1.71 inches in Montecito, 2.88 inches on the San Marcos Pass, and 3.69 inches at the Lake Cachuma Dam.

Crews dug a trench east of Goleta Beach to release flooding in the slough, airport, and surrounding areas.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Crews dug a trench east of Goleta Beach to release flooding in the slough, airport, and surrounding areas.

Many eyes were also on the Goleta Slough, which has not been opened to the Pacific Ocean for about a year. The previous program of opening the slough’s mouth periodically to stop stagnation hit bureaucratic snags in March 2013 when federal officials would no longer sign off on the practice without further assessment of steelhead trout populations. So over the preceding days of rain, the water levels grew perilously close to flooding the Santa Barbara Airport as the County of Santa Barbara applied for an emergency permit to open the slough.

That permit finally came through at about 11:40 a.m. on Friday, about 10 minutes after the first wave of torrential rain smashed into Goleta Beach. The backhoe busted through the sand right at 11:45 a.m., and the waters started flowing out, with quite a few onlookers, including a handful of county and airport officials looking on from both the windswept beach and the drier safety of their cars.

“The slough is at the highest I have ever seen it,” said Andrew Bermond, project planner for the Santa Barbara Airport. As of this morning, Bermond said, the slough’s water level was at about nine feet — the runway elevation is 11 feet — which is about four more feet than the slough’s normal water level. On Wednesday, Bermond said, the level was only at five-and-a-half feet and has risen exponentially in the time since.

Water levels rise along San Jose Creek in Goleta
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Water levels rise along San Jose Creek in Goleta

Bermond said concerns arose over the rising water’s effect on nearby homes and businesses, which already were seeing a lot of accumulated water. But the breach will have immediate benefits, Bermond said. “In a day or so, we’ll see the threat eliminated and almost as soon as it’s opened, it would start to diminish.” The last time the slough needed an emergency breach was in December 2012, Bermond said, when the slough had reached about seven feet.

The Goleta Slough Management Committee recently released a study on the effects of projected sea-level rise on the slough. One of the main concerns in the study was how increasing sea levels would coincide with strong rainfall to turn the slough into a bathtub, making storm drains unable to drain.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

No the water will just sink in and that will be the end of it. Many more storms are needed to fix this drought.

nelsonjazz (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 1:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That study had to do with projected sea rise - not the drought. And since the slough has been full for a couple years, the soil is probably saturated - that is why it had to be opened. It would not just sink in; that has already happened.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 3:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

California: 7-9 years of drought, 3-6 years of winter rain, an El Nino about every 12-15 years, what's so unusual? Nothing.
The drought is a function of overpopulation and overbuilding. People demand water, demand goes up, more water used, reservoirs get drained.
No, it isn't climate change, global warming/freezing, whatever. it is too much water usage.
The weather patterns, cycles, whatever are the same, the consumption is up, the weather didn't cause the drought, it was usage.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 5:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The usage did not cause the drought, either. But the usage is at a max or too much, too be able to cope with drought years.

However, what was unusual about this year was coined as the "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" and whether it returns after this rain is not clear. And there is the possibility of an El Niño event starting this spring.

The abnormal weather to the east and in the UK, is a result of the melting of the arctic ice, thanks to global warming, as well described in this article.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 2:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

21,000 Birds Killed In France By Winter Storms

Violent storms that have battered France and other parts of Europe this winter are to blame for the deaths of thousands of birds, according to French society for the protection of birds.

A total of 21,341 dead birds were found in western France by 500 volunteers working on three weekends, the French League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) said in a statement Wednesday.

France has not seen a bird "slaughter" this large since 1900, the Agence France-Presse reports.

The worst-affected species were the Atlantic puffin, the common murre and the razor-billed auk, LPO said.

I think it is too late for people to have woken up to AGW.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 2:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So the crazy weird jet stream patterns of late are caused by water over use in Goleta, CA... Hmm. Doesn't make a lick of sense to me.

z28racergirl (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The usage caused the drought?

Sooooo, more people using water causes it to not rain?

Interesting theory. May want to put the bong down now.

cycleboy (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 2:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A park ranger at Goleta Beach explained to me that the real reason the Slough was overgrown was due to the fisheries telling the county they couldn't mow the vegetation down to protect the steelhead. Has nothing to do with rising sea levels.
Drought and rain patterns have remained the same for decades, if not centuries. What has increased is usage and consumption. What's so hard to see?
If you have a reservoir that handles the needs for 100,000 people and you increase said population by 50,000 then the supply is going to be affected for the worse. Meanwhile, the drought/winter rain patterns remain the same. What do you think is going to happen?
As for the bird kill in France, really, you need to get over that, it has happened before global warming or climate change became the buzzwords.
Just like the Miracle of March back in 1991, a rain like that HAS happened before, just like the bird kill in France. These things happen, it is nature, it is dynamic and in a constant state of flux.
Cycleboy, look at the patterns since my lifetime: Drought from mid 1950's to early 1960's, winter rain from early 1960's to mid/late 1960's, drought from late 1960's to 1978, rain from 1978 to 1982 or 83, drought from 1983 to 1991 (Miracle of March), rain from 1991 to 1997, drought from 1997 to 2005, rain from 2005 to 2007, drought from 2007 to current, winter rain cycle on start. Consistent pattern. Want to know what is also a consistent pattern? Increase in water usage. Just like the global weather alarmists like to blame humans on global warming, you can blame them on the actual effects of water usage that doesn't work with the known weather patterns we experience here in California.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2014 at 1:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Uhh, you miss the point.

You said, "the weather didn't cause the drought, it was usage."

This makes no sense. Usage does not affect how much it rains. Drought it caused by lack of rain, which we have had for the last several winters, including this one when it has scarcely rained at all until last week.

Usage could/does affect how much humans have in storage for our own uses, but it does not cause drought.

cycleboy (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2014 at 2:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The reason the Goleta Slough has been full for the last couple years, and not opened at the mouth by backhoes was because of the discovery of steelhead trout in Atascadero Creek. This was reported in a few places. I wonder if this will change with the opening of the new waterway for the San Jose Creek, where there are weirs for such fish.

And as for explaining the weather cycles, if your data is JUST what you have listed here, then it is hardly scientific, finite and not peer-reviewed by anyone but yourself. In other words, it does not hold any water.

It is very easy to make generalizations from anecdotal evidence - they are often incorrect. There are thousands of scientists making careful measurements of weather and its side-effects all over the world for decades, there are satellites taking measurements and recording weather data constantly, there are top-notch scientists analyzing this information - yet you prefer tiny samples of anecdotal evidence.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2014 at 3:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

blahblahmoreblah is an accurate moniker for these apparently nonsensical teapartian conspiracy theories and climate deniers.

One more time: people and fish don't cause droughts, atmospheric high pressure zones off the west coast of North America do.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2014 at 5:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Johnny boy, NO, drought/rain CYCLES are consistent in CA. So is POPULATION GROWTH and THAT is what increases WATER USAGE which in effect CAUSE DROUGHTS. Get it right this time silly boy.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2014 at 12:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hopefully, to be a little more clear and precise:

--Water use does not cause droughts, which by definition are prolonged periods of little or no precipitation, with amounts that are significantly below the long-term average, over any given time period, for any given area and its long-term average climatic regime. We are, unquestionably, in a major drought, and human water demand has nothing to do with it. Even if the local human population was zero, it'd still be a major drought.

--Water demands in excess of reliable supplies cause water shortages. This can happen even in wet years and wet cycles, if the demands from all sources exceed the available supplies from all sources.

--The science and art of water resource conservation and integrative land use planning have come a long way. However, competent practitioners of both are overwhelmed and sometimes consumed by the greed and ignorance of people who don't understand and-or don't much care about one or the other or both, never mind the complex relationships between the two.

--There is no question that most of California including the Santa Barbara area has "grown" to the point that water supplies cannot be relied upon in a prolonged drought without major discomfort, economic losses and environmental damage. That "growth" includes both agricultural and domestic (municipal & industrial) uses; to pretend otherwise is to deny objective reality.

--Even if it hadn't rained during the past week and doesn't rain another drop for another year or two, groundwater supplies would carry us people along for another year or two, even much longer in some areas, but at ever-increasing economic and environmental costs. Both terrestrial (land) and aquatic flora (vegetation) and fauna (critters) would be harshly screwed, but most of our irrigated crops and gardens and livestock and pets would hobble by, unless people decide it's just too expensive to keep them alive. Basic human needs would be met, as long as the supply wells didn't sand in or go dry to the bottoms of their aquifers. The question then begged is, what about the year(s) after that, and what costs are we willing to bear, and which ones, and to what ultimate extent?

GregMohr (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2014 at 1:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Greg, awesome descriptive, very accurate. I will admit that my usage of the word "drought" was being referred to human caused usage. Lets call it what it really is: A WATER SHORTAGE.
This shortage IS caused by usage & consumption with disregard toward the rain/drought cycles.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2014 at 5:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We are so screwed!

discoboy (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2014 at 5:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Johnny boy, NO, drought/rain CYCLES are consistent in CA. So is POPULATION GROWTH and THAT is what increases WATER USAGE which in effect CAUSE DROUGHTS. Get it right this time silly boy.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2014 at 12:28 p.m.

Cycles ARE important, so much so, that one of our commentators is named Cycleboy. (But is he related to Discoboy?)

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2014 at 3:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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