Rain of any kind is badly needed in drought dry Santa Barbara County. The current storm has just enough to moisten the hills but not enough to create a runoff into the watershed area around Cachuma Lake or Gibraltar reservoir.
The current storm moved in on a later timeline than first expected. Most of the impacts have been in the evening hours and the strength will taper off by early Friday. Along the way it is expected to have some moments of strong energy but the punch will likely not leave a lasting mark.
There were some concerns over the burn areas including the coastal sites where the Sherpa and Rey fires scorched land around Refugio this year. No signs of slides have been reported. NewsChannel 3 has had a crew in several of the locations for an up close look.
To the south, the same watch is on around the Solimar fire zone from a year ago in Ventura County which comes much closer to the freeway lanes on Highway 101. That fire burned more than 1300 acres and began on Christmas 2015.
At the Ocean Mesa campground near El Capitan beach the overnight camping area had an outdoor class from Santa Barbara Middle School. Earlier in the day they were swimming while it was raining, then they had dinner from a cookout “chuck wagon” site. It was part of their adventure rain or shine.
“Well if it becomes big rain tonight, we have to make sure they stay dry. They have all weather tents,” said instructor Will Fredericks.
After this storm, there’s no rain in the immediate forecast.
To have a significant impact on the drought, now in its sixth year, the area needs to have about 12 inches of rain in a seasonal period of time to saturate the hills and five to ten inches of rain on top of that to create a runoff that will bring the levels back up.
Currently Cachuma Lake is 92 percent empty from April of 2011 when it was full.
One accident that might be related to the rain, occurred on the northbound ramp to Highway 101 at Los Carneros in Goleta, when an SUV went out of control and down the embankment. The driver was briefly trapped and had a minor injury.