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Serious Storm Approaching; Mandatory Evacuation Order Effective at Noon Tuesday for Areas of Extreme and High Risk for Debris Flows

By Aaron Briner
Mar 20, 2018 at 01:17 AM

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, in consultation with the National Weather Service and other public safety officials, has issued a Mandatory Evacuation Order effectivetomorrow (Tuesday) at noon for individuals in all risk levels. This means that those in Extreme Risk and High Risk areas – red, yellow and grey areas on the Debris Flow Risk Map – near the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier burn areas must be out of the evacuation areas by noon Tuesday.

Individuals in the Alamo burn area are in a Recommended Evacuation Warning area.

People with access and functional needs in the Extreme and High Risk areas should consider immediate evacuation. Owners of large animals and livestock should consider relocating immediately.

Updated meteorological models by the National Weather Service indicate that there is potential for rainfall intensity of between .5 to .75 inches per hour, which could trigger debris flows at any time during the storm. In addition, the storm is expected to bring between 5 and 10 inches of rain in the foothills and mountains, significantly more total rainfall than the 1/9 Debris Flow, which brought between 3 and 6 inches to the region.

Those in the Extreme and High Risks areas are required to evacuate at noon on Tuesday (March 20). To determine if a residence or business is in the evacuation area, consult the evacuation boundaries map at or call 2-1-1.

The Red Cross will open an evacuation center at Earl Warren Showgrounds, Warren Hall, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, at noon on Tuesday (March 20). Anyone evacuated or otherwise affected by the approaching storm is welcome to find relief and comfort at this location. For assistance evacuating large and small animals, contact Santa Barbara County Animal Services hotline at 805-681-4332.

According to the National Weather Service this storm is projected to have the heaviest rainfall and the longest duration of this winter storm season. All models indicate high confidence in rainfall totals and the duration of the storm.

According to Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, the amount of rain and the intensity is enough to cause flooding even without the impact of the recent fires. “We could experience localized flooding and road closures which are not isolated to the burn areas. The threat of rock falls, mud slides and debris flow is high,” he noted.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP), the National Weather Service and public safety partners will monitor storm activity to ensure Highway 101 remains open to facilitate resident evacuations. If Highway 101 needs to be closed, CHP would do so just prior to the arrival of the intense portion of the storm. Bands of rain, timing, and intensity will guide this decision. Closure information will be communicated broadly to the public as deicsions are made. Community members should go to for up-to-date information on evacuations and road closures.

Posted in Press Releases.
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