Paul Wellman

The downpour of rain is beginning to wreak havoc on Santa Barbara today, with reports of vehicle collisions, raw sewage spills and film festival party plans being altered. Moderate to heavy rains have brought with them scattered thunderstorms,according to the National Weather Service, producing a rate of one-half to a full inch every hour. They are expected to continue to do so into the evening, according to weather reports.

The highest rates of rain, expected throughout the South Coast and in Santa Ynez, could lead to flash floods. A flash flood watch is currently in effect for the tri-counties area. State Street is quickly turning into a river, with both sides of the street accumulating quite a bit of rain. Ponding of water is being reported at many intersections and along roadways as well as freeways. Olive, Garden, and Laguna streets near the freeway are all currently flooded and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Calle Cesar Chavez between Cabrillo Boulevard and Quienientos Street is flooded and also not passable. The streets are barricaded. Heard on the emergency scanner were reports of a raw sewage spill in the 400 block of Milpas Street just after noon today. Public works crews were responding, and the street was also being closed.

East Camino Cielo is closed from Gibraltar to Highway 154 as a result of rough road conditions. Four roads-Rosemary, Santa Rosa, Black and Telephone-in North County are all closed because of flooding. Galoshes and umbrellas will be needed through today at the least, with isolated thunderstorms expected to continue throughout the afternoon. The rain is expected to last all week.

The Santa Barbara Film Festival has changed the location of its opening night party from Paseo Nuevo, where it was held last year, to the courtyard of the Arlington Theater. The party will take place after the world premiere of Definitely, Maybe outside the theater. The street will be tented, festival officials said.

As reported earlier, a tractor-trailer jackknifed on the northbound lanes of Highway 101 near Buellton, backing up traffic and blocking at least the leftmost lane. The entrance to Gaviota State Beach was also closed. Collisions have been reported on southbound Highway 101 at Glen Annie Road, Arroyo Quemado Lane, and northbound at Casitas Pass. CHP officials are also warning drivers that Highway 154 might not be a good route today, as rain conditions have made this route hazardous. According to the CHP website, one inch of snow has accumulated on the ground on Highway 154 at the mountain summit.

Finally. Westmont College has closed its pool for the day due to the heavy rain and threat of lightening.


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