Santa Barbara County Updates Storm Planning
Lessons Learned From Recent Storms
Lessons learned from recent storms are helping Santa Barbara County prepare for upcoming rain events, including refining evacuation plans for the Extreme and High Risk areas. In addition, the online interactive Debris Flow Risk Map now shows changes to the risk areas from Extreme Risk to High Risk in the city of Carpinteria based on that city’s staff analysis.
For future storms, including those expected to arrive later this week, the County will now take into account several factors to determine if only the Extreme Risk area, noted as red in the Debris Flow Risk Map, should be evacuated, or if both the red Extreme and yellow High risk areas should be evacuated.
The decision whether to issue evacuation warnings and orders for both risk areas will be based on a number of factors: projected amount and intensity of rainfall; capacity of debris basins and creek channels at the time of a predicted storm; status of potential obstructions that can change the direction of water flow; the level of ground saturation; and, the risk of damage to basic utilities.
“Each storm since the 1/9 Debris Flow adds to our understanding and ability to make decisions to keep residents safe, evacuate residents only when necessary, and return residents home as soon as possible,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.
Prior to each storm, emergency and public safety officials meet to determine potential impact and evacuation-related factors. “As we know, meterological forecasts have a lot of uncertainty. Storms can easily exceed forecasts, and we constantly balance this possibility with actions needed to keep the public safe,” concluded Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management.