CA Evacuations Lifted in Flood-Prone Burn Scar Areas

“We dodged a bullet when the rain didn’t reach it’s full potential.” Those were the words of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles County officials at a press conference Thursday evening.

A press conference was held to update the media and public about the latest round of rain and thunderstorms to hit burn scar areas in California. One of the highlights was that people who had to evacuate, due to potential flooding, were allowed to return to their homes as of 5 p.m. Pacific Time Thursday. However they were urged to use caution as rain slowly ends overnight.

Other highlights of the press conference include:

  • Area fire departments, sheriff’s offices, emergency managers, the National Guard, and others were deployed and on standby for this heavy rain and flooding event
  • About 400 first responders were deployed in the areas most at risk for flooding
  • Fortunately there were no reports of major flooding, injuries, or fatalities from the heavy rain over burn scar areas
  • Officials created ‘debris basins’ to collect rainwater, rocks, mud, etc. and the basins performed ‘perfectly.’
  • Highway 101 stayed open throughout the rain event
  • Schools in the areas are expected to be fully open Friday
  • Heaviest of the rain comes to an end Thursday night, or at least by Friday morning’s sunrise

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Mandatory evacuations were issued earlier in the week when the forecast was for rainfall rates that would cause flash flooding over burn scar areas. Wildfires in October 2017 in central California, then December-January in southern CA created a higher potential of flooding because the water runs off burnt ground far quicker than a fully-forested area. After January’s deadly mudslides in southern California, officials didn’t delay in telling folks to get out before this latest round of rain. It’s believed that this round of rain didn’t create the same effects as January for two reasons: One, debris basins caught much of the mud, rocks, etc. this time around and two, the rain rates did not reach what was forecast.

National Weather Service Meteorologists from Los Angeles say that the area didn’t get as heavy rain as expected because some of the weather dynamics that cause intense lifting weren’t quite there this time. The moisture was there, but the storms never reached had the “punch” forecasters expected. Some of the heavier rain missed these areas to the north, also to the south.

Still, residents below burn scar areas need to monitor the forecast for heavy rain events in the future. This is the wet season for southern California, however as we get into April and May, history tells us drier weather usually moves in.

Flooding remains a possibility until early Friday morning, March 23 due to a few remaining showers and thunderstorms.

For WeatherNation, Meteorologist Steve Glazier

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