California officials order mandatory evacuations as rain threatens another round of mudslides

Mudslide Fears Prompt Mandatory Evacuations for Montecito, Other Burn Areas

Northern mountains were expected to receive as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) of snow and reach 7 feet (2.1 meters) in some areas.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, in consultation with fire agencies and other public safety officials, has announced that effective at 9 a.m. today, March 2, mandatory evacuation orders are lifted for all areas.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for parts of Santa Barbara County on Thursday as the week's second winter storm approached, leaving areas with recent burn areas susceptible to mudslides and debris flows.

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

Office of Emergency Management Director Rob Lewin says crews are checking roads, debris basins and utilities after the worst of the storm passed over the county's south coast early Friday.

The search was suspended overnight due to high avalanche danger in the mountains where 3 feet (90 centimetres ) of snow has fallen and winds were gusting to almost 150 miles per hour (240 kph).

Mudslide Fears Prompt Mandatory Evacuations for Montecito, Other Burn Areas

A flash flood warning for that area was canceled at 6:45 a.m., but flash flood watches remained in effect for parts of neighboring Ventura and Los Angeles counties as the storm front moved on. For help evacuating animals, call Santa Barbara County Animal Services at 805-681-4332.

As a outcome, vegetation that helped anchor earth in place was burned from hillsides when torrential rains arrived a month later and sent mud and debris thundering into the town of Montecito.

Other rainfall totals around the area in hundredths of an inch were 0.30 in Santa Maria, 0.40 in Orcutt, 0.35 in Guadalupe, 0.55 at Twitchell Reservoir, 0.35 in Casmalia, 0.45 in Los Alamos, 0.45 in Buellton, 0.44 in Solvang, 0.31 in Santa Ynez, 0.28 in Los Olivos and 0.20 in Cuyama. Those prospects improved Thursday, with the storm expected to continue to dump on most of the Golden State through Saturday afternoon.

Santa Barbara County ordered the immediate evacuations for residents of areas burned by three major wildfires over the past 18 months. Those heavy rainfall amounts could generate mud and debris flows near the burn areas.

Sheriff Brown said this is the first storm since the "disastrous" January 9, 2018 storm that led to a massive mudslide in Montecito, killing 21 people.

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