Authorities lifted evacuation orders in fire-ravaged Santa Barbara County late Tuesday morning, saying light rains no longer posed a risk of triggering flooding and mudflows.
“Effective immediately (10:30 a.m. today, March 13), Mandatory Evacuation Orders are lifted for all areas,” the county announced on Twitter. “The decision was made by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office in consultation with the National Weather Service and other public safety officials.”
Rain began falling Monday evening, but the heaviest downpour was expected to begin at 7 a.m. and last through the afternoon until about 4 p.m., said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Santa Barbara County authorities ordered mandatory evacuations Monday for residents below fire-ravaged mountains ahead of reports of rain. Residents who live in areas at "extreme risk" for debris flows near the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier burn areas had been ordered to leave by 8 p.m.
"Those hills are filled with silt, with rocks, with boulders, there's plenty more up there that could come down," Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters Monday, adding that conditions may be more precarious than in January, before deadly mudslides swept through Montecito. "Don't be fooled into thinking that this can't happen again."
Authorities recommended that those in "high risk" areas leave also, as they face the risk of flooding or being cut off from services and utilities.
A voluntary evacuation order that was issued in Ventura County for residents of Matilija Canyon and North Fork had been lifted as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Montecito is still recovering from devastating mudflows that swept away homes and killed at least 21 people.