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Rainfall intensity remains under the dangerous levels in Montecito and Santa Barbara

The series of storms lining up to hit the California coast appear to all be weak enough to fall below the most dangerous levels for critical burn areas that are prone to flooding.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management has been tracking the current and future storms closely. Director Rob Lewin is working with the National Weather Service office out of Oxnard and says the crew there is providing vital information even during the government shutdown.

“They do this without complaint. We are really fortunate to have such dedicated people watching out for us,” said Lewin.

He says last weekend the storm provided just the right amount of rain to soak the hills but not cause any dangerous runoff or debris flows. At times there were signs it was picking up energy but that did not materialize in the Montecito hills like it did a year ago.

That was a short duration – high intensity storm and it sent tons of boulders from the burnt hills after the Thomas fire into homes and over numeous streets. 23 lives were lost. Damage was in the millions. Repairs are far from over.

The current pattern of storms will go until at least the middle of next week without a brief period of relief.

“This is good for the drought,” said Lewin. “Of course it is a concern for the areas that burned. It can also be a concern for areas of general flooding.” He urges residents to sign up for alerts through the county’s web page at:
Lewin says any strong storm can cause issues not just in the burn area, but locations known for flooding in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Goleta and Santa Barbara. Carpinteria also sustained major flooding after the 1964 Coyote fire during the 1969 storms. Areas that have had a major fire have ten times the chance of a fast quick and unpredictable runoff than areas with vegetation. Those who live in dangerous areas are being asked to be ready with an evacuation plan either to another community without this threat or higher ground around here. Some visitors hearing about the rain were not deterred, or impacted. Tracy Pamintuan from Riverside said she drove in with friends and without any issues. “Our relatives they keep calling and say ‘hey how are you. In the news there are mudslides and whatever.’ We say we are fine. We made it and we are excited.” They spent the day along the waterfront, in restaurants, shopping and planning another, sunnier trip back to the area. The rain so far has been called “the perfect rain”. “We want nice rains this winter that are not high intensity rain. We want them spaced out so there is a dry period between the storms. But we don’t get to make these decisions,” said Lewin.

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