montecito flooding

Santa Barbara County is holding budget workshops this week to start what could be a very difficult process, with the county having to cope with financial impacts of the Thomas Fire, and flood.

County officials say aside from the immediate financial impacts of dealing with the twin disasters, the damage will affect the revenue base for several years.

Victims of the Thomas Fire, and Santa Barbara County flooding will be able to get some help with insurance claims questions.

The State Department of Insurance is going to have representatives on hand at the Montecito Center for Preparedness, Recovery, and Rebuilding from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

It’s a warm, sunny morning, and a stream of water less than a yard wide trickles down Montecito Creek, just off of East Valley Road in Montecito. It is deceivingly peaceful, almost serene here. Less than a hundred feet away, Mary Beth Myers walks under a cluster of sycamore and oak trees. This is where her cottage once stood, an area called Old Spanish Town, where a cluster of small homes were washed away by the January 9th storm.

It may not like it right now, but there’s rain in the forecast for later this week for the Central and South Coasts. But, the storm isn’t expected to pose any type of threat for the region’s brush fire burn zones.

The dollar amount from insurance claims tied to the deadly January debris flows in Santa Barbara County now tops more than $400 million dollars, and is expected to continue to rise.

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones released an update on the status of insurance claims. Jones says insurance companies have received more than 2,000 claims, totalling just over $421 million dollars.

A coalition of law firms has filed the latest in a barrage of lawsuits against a utility company over the Thomas Fire, and Montecito’s deadly debris flows. Attorneys and some victims gathered in Montecito to announce the latest suit against Southern California Edison.

It was billed as one of the biggest storms of the season, one which could potentially create a new wave of flooding, and debris flows in brush fire burn zones on the Central and South Coasts.

While much of the region had two to four inches of rain, no serious problems were reported.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says we dodged a bullet. All evacuation orders in Santa Barbara County were lifted at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Public safety officials say the heaviest rainfall of the storm that's been hitting the Central and South Coasts this week could come on Thursday.

Rob Lewin, the Director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, warns it could be the strongest, more dangerous time for the region from the storm.

The major storm system hitting the Central and South Coast is moving slower than expected through the region, and the heaviest rain may come around when we were expecting it to be leaving the region.

Forecasters say the rain we’ve had Tuesday night and Wednesday is a prelude for what’s to come.

NOAA Image)

So, why does the storm hitting the Central and South Coasts have the potential to drop so much rainfall?

The storm hitting our region isn’t a typical winter storm coming from the Gulf of Alaska. It’s one fueled a low pressure system off the coast, which is spinning subtropical moisture towards land like a conveyor belt.

Storm on West Coast
(NOAA image)

What has the potential to be a monster storm could create large amounts of rainfall on the Central and South Coasts Wednesday and Thursday.

Meteorologists say we could see two to six inches of rain on the coast, and five to ten inches in the foothills, and mountains.  A number of mandatory evacuations went into effect in Santa Barbara and Ventura County burn areas at noon on Tuesday.

(NOAA Image)

With a big winter storm coming, Santa Barbara County issued mandatory evacuation orders for three brush fire burn zones on the Central and South Coasts.

Officials say as of right now, the bullseye for the storm appears to be the Thomas Fire burn zone. The evacuation orders could affect as many as 18,000 people in Santa Barbara County.

A storm expected to hit the Central and South Coasts this week could be the strongest one since the January 9th disaster in Santa Barbara County, and may trigger a new wave of evacuations.

Meteorologists say heavy hourly rainfall could potentially trigger flash flooding, and debris flows in the county’s brush fire burn areas Tuesday night through Thursday morning.

A bank today announced it will give $750,000 to non-profit groups involved in Thomas Fire, and Montecito flood relief efforts.

Wells Fargo announced $75,000 grants to Women’s Economic Ventures, and the Ventura County Community Development Corporation. It will give $25,000 to Food Share.

There’s a pair of storms on the way for the Central and South Coasts, but rainfall amounts aren’t expected to be heavy enough to cause problems in the region’s brush fire burn zones.

A storm arriving Wednesday night is expected to drop between a quarter of an inch, and half inch of rainfall before leaving our area tomorrow. Then, another storm will arrive Thursday night, perhaps generating a quarter of an inch of rain before it wraps up late Friday, or early Saturday.

Santa Barbara County public safety officials have lifted all evacuation orders as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in burn areas, saying that the locally heavy rainfall in the forecast didn't materialize. Showers are expected through the day today, but rainfall rates are expected to be below the level which could trigger flash flooding, or mudslides.


Evacuation orders are in effect for a number of areas on the South Coast as the first in a series of three storms arrives in the region Tuesday morning.

National Weather Service forecasters say the storm has the potential to exceed thresholds for flooding and debris flows in brush fire burn areas.

(NOAA Photo)

The largest in a series of storms expected to hit the Central and South Coasts has arrived in the region, and while public safety officials are watching it closely, they still saying no evacuations are needed.

Coastal areas could get a half to three quarters of an inch of rain from the storm, while mountains, especially the Santa Ynez Mountains range. may get an inch to 2.5" of rainfall.

A storm continues to move towards the Central and South Coasts, but public safety officials continue to say that it doesn’t appear that it will meet thresholds to prompt evacuation orders for the region’s brush fire burn areas.

The latest updated forecast calls for the rain to begin on the South Coast around midday Saturday, with the heaviest rain in Ventura and Santa Barbara County mountains. The strongest rainfall for the region is now predicted to come between 6 p.m., and midnight.

It created a lot of concern, and prompted tens of thousands of evacuations, but the winter storm which hit the Central and South Coast fortunately didn’t cause major damage.

The storm totals ranged from about a half inch, in some coastal areas like Santa Barbara, to more than three inches in some local mountains.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

The Central and South Coasts escaped another major disaster in the form of a winter storm passing through the region.

There was locally heavy rainfall at times, but no major problems were reported in the region’s burn zones, especially in the hard hit Montecito area.  Mandatory evacuation orders for Santa Barbara County's Thomas, Whittier, and Sherpa burn areas were liefted at nine Friday morning.  Voluntary  evacuation orders for some Thomas Fire burn areas in Ventura County were canceled at 7 a.m. Friday.

The storm moving through the Central and South Coasts hasn’t caused any major problems, but we’re not done yet.

National Weather Service meteorologists say we’re still on track to get two to three inches of rain in our mountains. Rainfall on the coast could turn out to be a little less than expected, in the half inch to inch range.

The storm system has moved through the region slower than expected.

Ventura County public safety officials have issued voluntary evacuation orders for some parts of the county impacted by the Thomas brush fire.

The voluntary orders include Matilija Canyon, Highway 33's North Fork Area, the Vista Fire Burn Area, and Nye Road in the Casitas Springs area.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Tens of thousands of people left their homes in Santa Barbara County Thursday as a result of mandatory evacuations prompted by the winter storm moving into the region.

The storm is expected to peak in Santa Barbara County early Friday morning, and in Ventura County closer to daybreak. An inch of rain is possible along the coast, with up to three inches in the mountains.


Santa Barbara County public safety officials issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday morning for the Thomas, Whitter, and Sherpa brush fire burn areas due to the approaching winter storm.

People need to be out of the evacuation zones by 6 Thursday night.

Thursday is going to be a long day for many people on the Central and South Coasts, as we wait for the arrival of the second big winter storm of the season. Concern remains high about the potential for flooding, and debris flows in and around brush fire burn areas, especially in Santa Barbara County.

A Recommended Evacuation Warning is in effect in the county, but so far authorities have held off on a mandatory evacuation order. Some people have already evacuated as a precaution.

(Santa Barbara County Map)

Public safety officials say they are keeping a close eye on a storm approaching the Central and South Coasts, but at this point are holding off on any mandatory evacuation orders in brush fire burn areas.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Public safety officials in Santa Barbara County are beefing up staffing in the county in anticipation of what's expected to be a significant storm Thursday and Friday.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials say they will have extra resources on hand, as will all of the fire agencies in the county.

The Thomas Fire put a huge dent in Santa Barbara’s hotel tax revenue in December, but just released January figures show a major spike in revenues related to the disaster.

Santa Barbara’s Transient Occupancy Taxes for January were up 22% over January of 2017.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

The storm which had initially triggered concerns about the potential for flooding, and debris flows in brush fire burn areas in Santa Barbara County turned out to be little more than light rain for the region. 

Rainfall amounts were less than a quarter of an inch throughout the region, with most areas getting less under a tenth of an inch.  No evacuations were ordered.