Evacuations ordered for wildfire scarred areas of Santa Barbara County ahead of storm

Posted at 2:44 PM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 17:44:11-05

(AP) — Santa Barbara County has ordered evacuations of areas near three wildfire burn scars as a major winter storm approaches California.

Under the order, residents in designated debris flow risk areas near the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fire scars must leave by 8 p.m. Friday. Residents of adjacent areas are urged to also consider leaving.

It has only been a little over a year since a downpour on the huge Thomas Fire burn scar unleashed a massive debris flow that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in the seaside community of Montecito.

The disaster killed 21 people and two others have never been found.

A Red Cross evacuation center will open Friday evening at a community center.

A powerful storm heading toward California is expected to produce heavy rainfall, damaging winds, localized stream flooding and heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada.

Forecasters say rain will arrive in the north late Friday afternoon and reach the south late in the night, and last through Saturday night.

Winter storm warnings will be in effect up and down the Sierra Nevada along with a flash flood watch in the foothills above the San Joaquin Valley.

Flash flood watches will also be issued for other wildfire burn areas of Southern California.

The National Weather Service says two cold weather systems will follow on Sunday and Monday, bringing additional widespread showers and snow.