Mandatory Evacuations Ordered For Santa Barbara County Near Wildfire Burn Areas

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Tens of thousands of people have been urged to evacuate their homes in the U.S. state of California as a powerful storm batters the state and authorities warned of the potential of mudslides. The orders include the communities of Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Summerland and Carpinteria.

The 76-year-old said the three-story condo building where she lives was not damaged in January because it's on the ocean side of Highway 101, which helped divert the mudslides that came down the mountains.

A flash flood warning was issued Friday morning in Central Santa Barbara County.

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The CHP's Santa Barbara division said it would be monitoring the impacts of the storm to see whether or not the highway would need to be shut down.

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Rain fell at a rate of 0.6 inch (1.5 centimeter) per hour and initial assessments showed no damage to electrical, gas or water service, the county said. Westmont College suspended classes and programs between 6 p.m. Thursday and 11:30 a.m. Friday. This indicates that flash flooding conditions could develop if this rain picks up, causing mud and debris flow. We know that being evacuated is a tremendous hardship and we did not make this decision lightly.

Santa Barbara County officials said that while the potential for debris flow is low to moderate, waterways may spill over into roadways.

Rainfall is expected to be heaviest in the early morning hours, and Mr Brown said he wanted to avoid a situation in which people are forced to flee hazard in the middle of the night.

The Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. "We want people to recognize that this is just an inconvenience".

"Compared to the last event where we had very, very, very heavy rain in like a five-, 10-minute period, we're not really expecting the really heavy, quick intense rainfall, but I would say there's definitely a chance there'll be some issues in that Montecito area", said Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Those evacuation orders were lifted as of 9:30 a.m.