Paul Wellman

Last week’s storm dropped a fraction more than six inches of rain in the upper reaches of Romero Canyon and just shy of four inches on the central neighborhoods of Montecito, bringing much-needed hydration to the burned-out mountainsides without triggering significant flooding or debris flows. The storm did cause erosion along State Route 192 east of Toro Canyon Road, forcing Caltrans to close both lanes until early April. Despite the long, steady rain, the region remains in “severe” drought condition, according to Kelly Dyer, Santa Barbara’s water supply manager. So far this rainy season, downtown is at about 10 inches — 58 percent of normal — and the three-month forecast is predicting below-normal rainfall. The good news, Dyer added, is the city just received a $10 million grant from the California Department of Water Resources toward capital needs for its desalination system.


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