Stormy Week Ahead for Santa Barbara County

Friday night's rain drenched the South Coast with one to two inches of rain. An oncoming downpour triggered a warning for the Whittier and Sherpa burn areas west of Goleta; just under an inch fell between 10 and 11 p.m. at Gaviota, according to county gauges. All told, 1.66 inches fell at that part of the coast and just under an inch at the County Administration Building in downtown Santa Barbara. No overnight weather-related mishaps were reported by either county sheriff's or fire.

The National Weather Service meteorologists have their eyes on a series of storms expected to begin Sunday and continue to Friday; flash flood and debris flow potentials exist if thunderstorms develop, the county warned. The system appears to have been slowed by a block of high-pressure air above the Rocky Mountains, and on Saturday afternoon, the outlook was for rain by dawn on Monday — again one to two inches, three inches at south-facing hillsides, of moderate-to-heavy rainfall with strong wind gusts possible.

Altogether, up to 10 inches could fall in the mountains by week's end. The heaviest rains are expected Wednesday through Thursday. Saturation levels could be reached by the end of the week, the weather reports state, leading to flash floods or debris flows at low spots and creeks. They warn against driving into flooded roads or intersections.

The National Weather Service scientists update the county's emergency managers daily through webinars and conference calls, Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management director Robert Lewin said, despite the ongoing federal shutdown. The weather computers give more accurate forecasts as the clouds approach, getting fairly precise within 12 hours of an event; however, flash flood and debris flow alerts might give 15 minutes warning at best. Suggestions on how to prepare for a storm can be found at the county website countyofsb.org/stormprep, as well as information on signing up to receive alerts. In the event of power failure, emergency information will go out over radio waves in Spanish and English at the following stations:

• KTMS 990 AM
• KUHL 1440 AM
• KOSJ 1490 AM
• KZSB 1290 AM
• KCLU 1340 AM
• KCLU 89.7 / 92.1 / 88.3 / 102.3 FM
• KCBX 99.5 / 95.1 /90.9 FM
• KSYV 96.7 FM
• KRAZ 105.9 FM
• KLITE/KSBL 101.7 FM
• KOSJ 94.1 FM
• KTYD 99.9 FM
• KSPE 94.5 FM (La Musical)
• KIST 107.7 FM (Radio Bronco)

In addition to rain, as much as a foot of snow could fall above 5,000 feet in the coming week. Likewise, high surf continues through the week at west-facing beaches and out at sea, as well as a high wind advisory — 40 percent possibility of gale-force winds (34-47 knots) — on the water Sunday through Wednesday. Minor coastal flooding is possible through Friday. Hazards including large, breaking waves on jetties and rip currents. If caught in the latter, relax, float, swim parallel to the shore to move out of a riptide, the NWS suggests; or stay out of the water if inexperienced.