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Coast Guard establishes “safety zone” at Santa Barbara Harbor entrance

The large storm that brought torrential rain and large ocean swells to Santa Barbara Harbor is still causing issues for mariners trying to travel in and out of the harbor.

Massive amounts of sand left in the storm’s wake has piled up in the harbor, leaving only seven-feet of water at zero tide. This lack of water level has forced any vessels leaving or entering the harbor to do so at high tide. Some larger-draft vessels are unable to enter or exit at all.

On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard established a “Safety Zone”” at the harbor entrance.

The designation grants legal authority to Harbor Patrol to manage and disallow all vessel traffic out of or into the harbor.

Harbor officials said they expect spring-cycle dredging to begin March 1. Officials are hopeful that a narrow, navigable channel will be made in the following days.

The Safety Zone designation expires on March 16, provided full resolution of any navigation issues at the harbor.

Mariners should contact Harbor Patrol on VHF Ch. 12 or 16 or at (805) 564-5530 with any questions about harbor conditions.

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