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Weak weather system worries water supply watchers

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - After making a big splash in January, nature has been taking quite a winter break in Santa Barbara County.

Radar images from Wednesday morning's unimpressive storm showed the bulk of the rain was in the greater Los Angeles area. Light rain was seen in Ventura County, spotty rain was felt in Santa Barbara County.

The month of March is starting off quiet, on the heels of February which produced area rainfall totals for the 28-day period that were less than two-tenths of an inch in total.

Cachuma Lake, the area's prime South Coast water supply is at about 64 percent capacity, just about where its been sitting for the last few months. The January rain did very little to change the capacity because the watershed did not get saturated to the point that it created runoff into the lake.

Several inches of rain followed by steady storms will be the best recipe to fill and spill area water sources such as Cachuma Lake, Gibraltar Reservoir, and Jameson Lake.

With blustery conditions, at the Santa Barbara harbor, fisherman Gordon Hodge said the flags were showing a Southeast direction. That's normally good for rain storms if they are in the region.

"If you get a low pressure that comes through this area, this is where the big storms happen," Hodge said. "The rain-laden clouds get pushed up against these mountains, then they have to dump the rain to get over it."

It's still to be seen if anything significant is coming later this month.

Hodge said we have seen it all before. "I keep hoping for a March miracle. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't."

Curt Dorn, a visitor from the Pacific Northwest, said previous storms in our area these last couple years left the California Central Coast and found its way to the state of Washington.                                      

"Well we appreciated it, but you can have it," Dorn said. He has noticed a change in the winter weather from what it was like as a kid.

"Something's switching," he said. "Our lakes used to freeze hard when I was a teenager, now they don't freeze at all. The rain we are getting is more of a tropical type rain."

Environment / Lifestyle / Outdoors / Santa Barbara - South County
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John Palminteri

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

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