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Rain brings challenges to holiday drivers and last-minute shoppers on the Central Coast

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The latest storm was a splash down in many areas including the Santa Barbara Funk Zone.

Due to hard morning downpours, several intersections had water over the curb causing Santa Barbara City Public Works crews to put up flooded signs and barricades where the runoff was too much to handle.

Several vehicles hit the water hard creating large waves, sometimes hitting on come cars.

Drains that were drought dry were gushing again to add to the runoff.

In Carpinteria, CalTrans and its contractors just completed lane improvements and drainages around Santa Monica Road and got their first big test from the rain.

"The two new lanes and the new offramp at the intersection at Santa Monica road seem to be working very well and moving traffic through at a better rate, " said gas station owner Don Risdon.

New signals and crosswalks were also installed.

He also posted some holiday good will on his price signs.

"Well for Christmas I dropped the prices about six cents a gallon to inspire some buying and let the motoring public know we care about them," said Risdon.

In the Highway 101 construction corridor north and south of Carpinteria, Risdon expects a solid flow of cars this weekend. He says the next two days will be those going in and out of the Central Coast, and on Christmas it will likely be local traffic in the Santa Barbara, Ventura, Goleta area.

In downtown Santa Barbara, one business owner knew the rain would be an impact, and began personal delivery.

"Nobody wants to come shopping in the rain so I am happy to deliver it to your door if you order online and select local pickup," said Asher Hayes at the Asher Market.   It is located in the Santa Barbara Hotel on State And Cota St.

Most of December was without rain and business was good, until now.

Hayes said, "So this year I was happy to get some dry weekends. I knew the rain coming was going to kill foot traffic."

Many customers ducked in from the rain and found warm alpaca scarfs, other clothing and gifts. Many children's outfits were also on display. The 500 block of State Street, one of the busiest in downtown, has brought many shoppers in to a store with a window sign but not a hanging sign out front.

When it came to strolling in the rain, some people were surprised by how much was coming down.

Matt Hepner said, I thought it was going to putter out by now but it's great."

He had an adventure underway. "Just going with it. Going to check out the creek and the beach. It is such a strange thing these days. Yeah, it's nice-- 'A Christmas Miracle'."

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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