Officials Order Mandatory Evacuation in Southern California Over Mudslide Concerns
The National Weather Service in Los Angeles, together with Santa Barbara and Ventura County officials, has issued a mandatory evacuation order for potential flood regions for Tuesday, March 20. The preventative order comes in advance of what meteorologists anticipate to be the strongest storm to hit Southern California this season.
The mandatory evacuations will start at noon on Tuesday and last until Thursday at 5pm.
"We have no choice but do to this," Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown said. "It's not worth risking lives to avoid evacuation."
The regions that are being evacuated are scarred with burn damage due to the recent wildfires that ripped through the area. The storm's flash flooding could cause potential dangerous debris flow from the area's burn scar. But, even without the recent topographical damage, the intensity of the predicted rainfall would be enough to trigger potential rock falls and mudslides.
"We could experience localized flooding and road closures, which are not isolated to the burn areas. The threat of rock falls, mudslides and debris flow is high," said Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management.
Santa Barbara County and the surrounding areas saw mudslides that killed at least 21 people earlier this year. In February, Santa Barbara County was evacuated due to risks of mudslides caused by a severe winter storm.
The incoming storm will sweep in from across the eastern Pacific Ocean and is expected to bring rainfall of up three-quarters of an inch per hour over large areas of southwest California. The rainfall could begin as early as Tuesday afternoon, and continue through late Thursday or early Friday, with five to 10 inches of total rainfall predicted in the foothills and mountains.
Residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties should stay alert for updates on evacuation times and instructions for their respective areas.