Santa Barbara County issues evacuations for burn areas ahead of storm

Officials have issued an Evacuation Order for residents living in the burn zone areas in Santa Barbara County ahead of an approaching storm.

In a Monday afternoon press conference, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said residents living in the areas below the Sherpa, Whittier and Thomas Fire scar zones are ordered to evacuate by 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2019, but their hope is that residents may return home within 24 hours after the storm has passed.

The California Highway Patrol said there is a possibility the 101 freeway might get shut down as it did before due to the storm, but officers will be closely monitoring the situation to make that determination.

A Red Cross evacuation center will be open at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Goleta Valley Community Center located at 5679 Hollister Avenue in the city of Goleta. Anyone needing assistance with evacuating animals may call 805-681-4332.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to occur Tuesday night March 5, into early Wednesday morning, March 6, 2019. Peak rainfall rates during this period are expected to range between 0.50 and 0.80 inches.

The heaviest rain will be focused across south and southwest-facing slopes of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The NWS has issued a Flash Flood Watch for all burn areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties and will be in effect from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.

For a debris flow risk map and more information on preparing for emergencies and evacuation for Santa Barbara County, visit

Shallow mud and debris flows will be likely, especially in the first-year burn areas with the potential for more significant and damaging debris flows. Roadway flooding is also likely, especially in low-lying areas, along with rock and mudslides on canyon roads and below steep terrain, officials warn.

Residents living in the recent burn areas are advised to be on alert during the upcoming storm, and if you don't feel safe, leave the area.