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Evacuations Recommended Near Santa Barbara County Burn Areas in Anticipation of Storm

A recommended evacuation was in place Wednesday morning in the Santa Barbara County burn areas ahead of anticipated heavy rainfall. 

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The warning was issued for Santa Barbara County south coast burn areas, and was in effect beginning at 8 a.m., according to the Office of Emergency Management.

"If at any time people feel threatened, take immediate action. Do not wait for a notification. Those with access and functional needs and those with large animals should leave," said the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office.

The 101 Freeway was to remain open as residents evacuated the Santa Barbara area, the California Highway Patrol said. CHP reiterated the the freeway would not close March 1, and if it is to be closed, it will be shut down just prior to the arrival of the heaviest of the storm's downpour. 

The communities near and below the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier burn areas were urged to be prepared for potential mudflow that could come late Thursday and Friday.

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"It is a discretionary decision on your part. If you choose not to leave, be prepared to leave at a moment's notice," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

NBC4's meteorologists said the concern with this system is the potential for heavy rain. In general rain amounts will range from .50” to 2” through Saturday, said meteorologist Anthony Yanez.

If the burn scars, like with the Thomas Fire and the Montecito area, get more than .33” to .5” an hour, flooding will occur.

A mandatory evacuation was not expected Wednesday, but Santa Barbara County officials were to reevaluate Thursday morning. 

Scattered snow showers are expected to persist through early evening across the mountains, mainly Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Snow levels are between 3,000 and 4,000 feet as well. Travel impacts are possible across Interstate 5 near the Grapevine due to snowy and icy road conditions.

For more information on the recommended evacuation, visit this link.

Some residents once affected by the mudslides are preparing for the worst.

Amye Leong and husband Bob Price are among those whose homes were almost completely destroyed back on Jan. 9.

They spent two hours trapped on their second floor, surrounded by mounds of mud 9 feet deep.

"I've had nightmares of mud coming through the house, which it did to me," Leong said. "And wake up in stark, raving terror."

Leong and her husband no longer live in the house affected by the storm. They moved to nearby Santa Barbara, and said they'll be keeping a watchful eye on storm advisories and evacuation.

To see an interactive map on areas at extreme risk of flooding, visit this link.

The concern with this system is the potential for heavy rain.

In general rain amounts will range from .50” to 2” through Saturday.

If our burn scars, like the Thomas Fire including Montecito, get more than .33” to .5” an hour flooding will occur.

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