Santa Barbara County sheriff announces mandatory evacuations ahead of storm

Santa Barbara County sheriff announces mandatory evacuations ahead of storm

Effective as of noon Thursday, March 1, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says individuals must start packing up and be out of the evacuation areas by 6 p.m. Thursday evening.

"The decision to evacuate these areas is being made out of an abundance of caution", County Sheriff Bill Brown said during Thursday morning's press conference.

The order encompassed Montecito, where a January 9 storm triggered flash floods that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.

The storm will continue to bring showers to Southern California into Saturday according to forecasters. There were no estimates on how many people may have left the area.

Portions of Ojai was placed under a voluntary evacuation order Thursday night.

According to Brown, weather officials stated the most significant part of the storm is expected to arrive between 2:00 - 8:00 a.m. Friday.

Santa Barbara County sheriff announces mandatory evacuations ahead of storm
Santa Barbara County sheriff announces mandatory evacuations ahead of storm

"Due to the size and breadth of the evacuation area, we will not be able to notify everyone in person", the sheriff's said, although deputies will be going door-to-door in neighborhoods of "extreme risk". "We will constantly monitor the situation and open the freeway as soon as possible", the CHP said. He emphasized the need for people to spread the word to anyone they know. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people live in the evacuation area.

"Everyone has seen the potential for disaster that can happen", Brown said. This is the first storm since January 9and officials don't know how the watershed will react while hearing it's precarious and risky at this time. "We have been told that it is very precarious and very unsafe", Sheriff Brown said, adding that the county is taking precautions to ensure that no one is in harm's way "...if we have another sizable debris flow".

Highway 101 may be affected or closed, depending on the intensity of the storm.

A debris flow from heavy rainfall early Friday morning prompted officials to close State Route 33 at Fairview Road near Ojai, the California Highway Patrol tweeted just after 4 a.m.

Brown said that people in the area will not be forced out of their homes but added that evacuations were "something that has to become part of the new normal for the southern part of Santa Barbara County".

A Winter Weather for Central Indiana for Thursday Morning
While we may get a break from accumulating precipitation by mid morning, another wave moves through by the afternoon and evening. Freezing drizzle is expected across all but southeastern parts of the state Thursday , the National Weather Service reports.

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