Winter Storm Updates: Flash Flood Warning for Santa Barbara County
Rain Stalls Overhead, Raising Flood and Tornado Warnings
[Update: Feb. 27, 1:30 p.m.] The U.S. Forest Service reminds that Figueroa Mountain Road is closed through at least March 13. The volume of January rains wiped out large portions of the road system as well as causing slope, bridge, and trail failures. Los Padres Forest employees and crews arriving from other national forests are working to restore them, said Andrew Madsen, a spokesperson for Los Padres. “We simply ask for patience as we do not want anyone to get stuck or injured in these stricken areas. The upside of all this rain is that we could see a phenomenal wildflower explosion in March and April,” he added with optimism.
[Update: Feb. 24, 3 p.m.] As the late February storm systems rolled in, a tornado warning and flash flood emergency alerts went out on Friday to Santa Barbara County residents.
A long line of rain clouds are sitting over the county, dropping about four inches so far, and expected to let loose another three inches soak the county, said Kristen Stewart, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. The continuing rain led to the flash flood warnings recently ringing text alerts on cellphones from the Lompoc Valley, up to Sisquoc, and east along the mountain ranges to the Simi Valley, and on down to Pomona. The flash flood warning runs through 10 p.m. on Friday.
The storm is slowly making its way eastward, exiting the county around mid-day on Saturday, after which there will be scattered showers and perhaps thunderstorms, said Stewart. Snow is staying above the 4,000-5,000-foot level, and some rain will continue into Sunday.
Earlier today, a tornado warning went out to the Lompoc-Buellton area at 10:13 a.m., lasting for only about 17 minutes, due to some rotation they were seeing on radar, Stewart said. No confirmed tornadoes touched down, she said, and it would have been a much weaker twister than what the Midwest sees.
Another storm will make landfall on Monday and last through Tuesday, but it’s a weaker system that might drop an inch or so of rain.
As always, County Environmental Health warns ocean swimmers to avoid the water for three days after a rain. Water from storm drains run to the sea and is not treated. Bacteria and pollutants can be flushed into the ocean. As well, shellfish may contain bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and metal pollutants that can make people ill. For more information, visit www.sbprojectcleanwater.org.
[Update: Feb. 23, 4 p.m.] The 154 is back open in both directions following a nearly two-hour closure after Caltrans crews were able to plow the roadway and spread sand across the lanes for traction by 3 p.m. Crews are prepositioned for other potential snow flurries on the 154 and at maintenance yards through Saturday, said Caltrans spokesperson Alexa Bertola. She also asked motorists to please not stop on the highway to check out the snow.
Rain and snow are still in the forecast for Friday, with snow falling at the 5,000-6,000-foot level — San Marcos Pass is at about 2,200 feet — and getting back down to 3,000-4,000 feet into Saturday morning, the National Weather Service predicts. The “blizzard” conditions predicted yesterday are most likely to occur at 6,000-7,000 feet.
[Original Story] Caltrans closed State Route 154 at 1 p.m. on Thursday due to snow on the road. Travelers are advised to use the 101 as there is no time of opening as yet. Caltrans reports they are currently plowing the road; however, more snow at upper elevations remains in the forecast.
A Flood Watch goes into effect for Santa Barbara from late Thursday night through Saturday afternoon. Sandbag stations have opened. No evacuation warnings exist at the moment, but the City of Santa Barbara suggests concerned residents voluntarily evacuate.
PATH Santa Barbara opens at 4 p.m. and has 26 beds for cold, rainy weather. They will remain available through February 26.
The Freedom Warming Centers are open 6 p.m.-6 a.m., now through February 25 to house anyone who needs shelter from the storm.
In south Santa Barbara County:
Santa Barbara: Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara Street
Carpinteria: Carpinteria Community Church, 1111 Vallecito Road
In north Santa Barbara County:
Lompoc: Peace Lutheran, 1000 West Ocean
Santa Maria: Cornerstone Church of the Nazarene, 1026 Sierra Madre
The warming center hotline can be called at (805) 324-2372 for more information.
This story will be updated as events occur.
Hwy 154 | Credit: Caltrans
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