Santa Barbara County officials have escalated their response to the threat posed by an incoming major storm, issuing evacuation orders for certain areas. The evacuation orders affect properties along waterways near the Thomas, Cave, and Alisal burn areas, as well as properties near Sycamore Creek, extending from Stanwood Drive down to parts of Ninos Drive in the city of Santa Barbara.

This move comes as the National Weather Service warns of “potentially life-threatening” rain expected to hit the county from mid-morning Sunday through Sunday night, raising concerns about flash flooding, debris flows, and landslides in vulnerable areas.

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The storm is forecasted to bring an extended period of heavy rain, with coastal and valley areas expecting 3-6 inches of rainfall and mountain areas anticipating 6-12 inches. The intensity of the storm could lead to significant flooding, particularly if the heaviest rain bands stall over the area, as predicted by some models. With the ground already saturated from recent rains, the potential for damage and disruption is significant, prompting the county to advise residents in the affected areas to prepare for possible evacuation.

In light of these warnings, residents are urged to stay informed, prepare emergency kits, secure their property, and plan for the possibility of evacuations. The county has made sand and bags available for residents to fortify their properties against floodwaters. School closures and event cancellations are also beginning to be announced in anticipation of the storm’s impact.

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This situation highlights the ongoing challenges faced by communities in Santa Barbara County, still recovering from previous wildfires and storms. The response by local officials and emergency services is aimed at minimizing the risk to life and property, emphasizing the importance of preparation and adherence to evacuation orders.