UPDATE Feb. 4, 2019 10 A.M. Continued rainstorms and windy conditions overnight Sunday contributed to power outages in San Luis Obispo County, and more early morning text warnings from Santa Barbara County emergency officials about possible debris flows in and around recent Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas Fire burn areas. State Route 154 will remain closed indefinitely while crews clean out a culvert near Lake Cachuma, clogged with debris from 2017's Whittier Fire.
UPDATE Feb. 3, 2019 9 A.M. Latest evacuations end Sunday morning for Santa Barbara County
Evacuations of neighborhoods near wildfire-burned areas around Santa Barbara end today at 9 a.m. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, which ordered the evacuations, said according to the National Weather Service, "critical rain rates did not materialize over the area as expected." At 1:45 a.m. Sunday, the NWS issued a tornado warning for Santa Ynez, Solvang and El Capitan, with the county advising in a text alert to "take cover now, move to interior room, avoid windows." By 2:19 a.m., the tornado warning was cancelled. Some local roads remain flooded and muddied, but US 101 is now reopened to north and southbound traffic from Santa Barbara to Ventura. Highway 154 is closed from SR 246 to 192 until Sunday afternoon for storm cleanup.
UPDATE Feb. 2, 2019 8 P.M. Heavy rains cause flooded creeks and highway in Santa Barbara area:
US 101 is now reopened to traffic from Santa Barbara to Ventura, both north and southbound. Highway 154 is closed from SR 246 to 192 until Sunday afternoon for storm cleanup.
UPDATE Feb. 2, 2019 4 P.M Both southbound lanes of US 101 are now reopened to traffic from Santa Barbara to Ventura. Northbound lanes remain closed from the Sheffield to Milpas exits, with Caltrans saying it expects to reopen those lanes sometime Saturday night. Highway 154 is closed from SR 246 to 192 until Sunday afternoon for storm cleanup.
UPDATE Feb. 2,2019 10 A.M. Flooded creeks close US 101 from Santa Barbara to Ventura:
Caltrans has closed both directions of U.S. 101 between Ventura and the Santa Barbara area due to flooding and debris on the highway. Caltrans crews are on the scene cleanging up, but the highway is expected to be closed at least until Saturday afternoon. Romero and San Ysidro Creeks overflowed after heavy overnight rain, and a flash flood warning remains in effect for areas burned in the Dec. 2017 Thomas Fire and earlier Sherpa and Whittier Fires.
ORIGINAL STORY PUBLISHED Feb. 1, 2019 4 P.M. Santa Barbara County evacuations underway as Feb. 1 storm arrives:
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered once again in Santa Barbara County, in anticipation a current incoming storm could trigger mudslides and deadly flooding. Since early Friday afternoon, about 75 sheriff deputies and search and rescue staff have been going door to door advising people to leave.
Those who live near area burned by the Thomas Fire a little over a year ago are most at risk, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.
“The vast majority of people who are being evacuated are below the Thomas Fire burn scar,” Brown said at a press conference held Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
The latest evacuations are calling for those living near the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas Fires burn scars to leave by 8 p.m. Friday evening, Feb. 1, 2019. Here's Montecito Fire Division Chief Kevin Taylor
“The Sherpa and Whittier Fires, because they're a little bit older, have hired to debris flow thresholds,” Taylor said. “So we are very concerned about those areas, the Thomas Fire, being younger, with a lower threshold, is our primary area of concern.”
Taylor says all available emergency responders are on standby.
“We do have all of our resources staffed and poised to respond to any one of those three locations in the county,” Taylor said.
Emergency officials said crews are working around the clock to clear debris basins so that stormwater won't get backed up. By 6 p.m., the San Ysidro and Montecito debris basins will be empty, said Taylor, and the Cold Springs and Romero debris basins will be 80 percent cleared.
To see if you are affected by the evacuations, go to the website ReadySBC.org and click on the interactive evacuation map.
A Red Cross evacuation center is opening at 7 p.m. at Goleta Valley Community Center in Goleta.