Monster Rain Drenches Santa Barbara

Highway 101 Closed, Evacuation Orders Still in Effect for All of Montecito and Parts of Carpinteria, Summerland, and Santa Barbara

Credit: Carl Perry

An epic amount of rainfall drenched Santa Barbara County in Storm Number 13, currently in its last day, taking Gibraltar Reservoir over the top and delivering a historic 12-plus inches to San Marcos Pass in a 24-hour period.

Even Lake Cachuma, from which all the South County draws much of its water, reached 68 percent full, compared to the 31.7 percent when the year began and the county was in Storm Number 9. That’s an increase of a whopping 22 billion gallons of water, County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig told the county supervisors this morning. The county is at 274 percent of its “normal to date” rainfall, and at 101 percent of its annual norm in just the fifth month of the rain year.

The new Randall Road debris basin held running water for the first time when San Ysidro Creek took a right turn and jumped its banks sometime last night. At the Santa Monica basin above Carpinteria, the county’s largest, only five feet of one of the intake towers showed above the mud, rock, and rainwater filling the basin to 21 feet deep.

The monster runoff flooded downtown Santa Barbara intersections, leading to a viral video of a man paddling a green kayak at Spring and East De la Guerra Street. The rushing waters blew the heavy iron lids off of manholes in the streets, and a 5,000-gallon sewage spill on Monday closed West Beach for at least three days.

At the harbor, the storm surge has sent one to two years’ worth of silt and sand that is blocking the harbormouth, said Mike Wiltshire, waterfront director for the city. He said he’s in talks with the Army Corps of Engineers to get the dredge back to town on an emergency basis, likely within the week.


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On the roads, Interstate 5 is still the only way to get from Northern California to Southern California. Highway 101northbound is still closed from about State Route 33 to Carpinteria, and also at Winchester Canyon Road in Goleta. On the southbound side, the 101 is closed at Milpas Street in Santa Barbara, at SR 150 in Carpinteria, and at Clark Avenue in Santa Maria. The 154 across San Marcos Pass is also closed, as is State Route 166 from Santa Maria to the 33. More roads around the county and cities are closed, especially in mountainous areas, and a list can be found at countyofsb.org/3675/Storm-Related-Road-Closures. These include Stagecoach, Kinevan, Paradise, and Gibraltar roads, as well as Refugio and Alisal roads.

The National Weather Service is forecasting more showers, high winds, and possible thunderstorms in Santa Barbara mid-morning on Tuesday. While the rain totals are around a half inch to three inches, if thunderstorms develop, they could drop as much as an inch per hour.

As of noon Tuesday, January 10, this is the evacuation information at the county’s emergency information website ReadySBC.org:

EVACUATION ORDER in the following areas:

  • Carpinteria Creek properties
  • Montecito/Toro Canyon/Sycamore Canyon/Padaro Ln
  • Serena Park area in Carpinteria
  • Conejo Rd and Sycamore Creek properties in City of Santa Barbara

SHELTER IN PLACE in the following areas:

  • Lower Eastside/Riviera in City of Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara County impact areas (Cave and Alisal)
  • Foxen Canyon/Santa Maria Mesa/Tepusquet areas in Northern Santa Barbara County
  • Identified properties and areas in and around Carpinteria associated with the Thomas Fire

Definitions of the terms can be found here, countyofsb.org/2842/Emergency-Protective-Actions.

Shelter Locations:

  • An evacuation center is open at La Colina Jr. High School, 4025 Foothill Rd., Santa Barbara
  • An Evacuation Center is open at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, 941 Walnut Ave., Carpinteria
  • An Evacuation Center is open at the SBCC Wake Center, 300 N. Turnpike Rd, Santa Barbara (SHELTER FULL AS OF 9 P.M. 1/9/23)
  • For animal evacuation information Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm, call Santa Barbara County Animal Services at 805-681-4332.
    • If you need animal evacuation support outside those hours, please call the County Animal Services after-hours phone line at 805-683-2724
  • For large animal evacuation assistance, please call 805-892-4484.
  • For Evacuation Center assistance and additional information, contact the Santa Barbara County Call Center at 833-688-5551 or call 2-1-1.
  • Click here to register for Emergency Alerts to receive any changes to protective actions.

Correction: Rainfall totals were updated.


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