Southern California storm: What you need to know

Storm track

Southern California is being hit by a major storm over the next two days. Here’s what you need to know:

When will the storm arrive?

The storm — a bloated atmospheric river of tropical moisture known as a “pineapple express” — began making landfall Tuesday night with scattered showers.

On Wednesday, showers are expected to push into Santa Barbara and Ventura County before moving into the Los Angeles area and eventually points south. More rain is expected Thursday.

By Friday, the system is predicted to dump a total of 3 to 6 inches of rain along the coast, and up to 10 inches in the mountains and foothills above Montecito, Carpinteria and Ojai.


How dangerous is the storm for Thomas fire burn areas?

It’s taking a “bull’s-eye shot” at Santa Barbara County, Ventura County and the Thomas fire burn scar, said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Seto said the storm could drop up to three-quarters of an inch of rain an hour for most of Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning over the area.

Robert Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, said that “this storm is not the storm to question. This is a legitimate, hard-coming storm that has the potential to cause destruction. It has the potential to take lives .… Those mountains are locked and loaded with debris” that’s ready to come down.

In Santa Barbara County, 30,000 people were in evacuation areas, and by Tuesday afternoon sheriff’s deputies had knocked on about 1,000 doors, urging residents to leave.

“We know it is disruptive, costly and inconvenient,” Sheriff Bill Brown said. “We would not be making this decision without it being our belief that it is necessary to protect your safety.”

Roughly 2,400 Ventura County residents were also ordered to leave, while about 32,200 others there live in voluntary evacuation zones, said Deputy Chad Anderson of the Sheriff’s Department.

I live outside the Thomas fire zone. Should I still be ready to evacuate?


Residents in Los Angeles County and city who live below fire-scarred mountains are being ordered to evacuate ahead of the storm, authorities said.

Residents who live near the La Tuna Canyon, Creek and Skirball fire burn areas will be ordered to leave starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

“We don’t want people getting stuck in those areas, therefore we’re being proactive,” said Battalion Chief Jaime Moore with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

About 340 homes in the Kagel Canyon, Lopez Canyon and Little Tujunga areas, as well as the 8300 to 9000 blocks of La Tuna Canyon Road, will be under mandatory evacuation orders.

Another 175 homes in these areas will be under voluntary evacuation: La Tuna Canyon Road from the 9000 block to Sunland Boulevard; and residents of an area bounded on the south by Day Street, on the east by Plainview Avenue and on the west by Sherman Grove Avenue.

Law enforcement officers were to begin going door-to-door Wednesday morning urging people to leave and to relocate their large animals, Moore said.

He said authorities believe those in the mandatory evacuation zones face a considerable threat, while those in voluntary zones aren’t in “imminent danger.” Still, Moore said, they should prepare to leave.

“There’s potential for danger” in voluntary zones, he said. “They should be in a state of readiness.”

Evacuation shelters will be opened at Sylmar High School and the Westwood Recreation Center. Large animals can be taken to the Equestrian Park at Hansen Dam.

The city of Burbank, meanwhile, issued a voluntary evacuation order that will take effect at 8 p.m. Wednesday and continue through at least 6 p.m. Thursday for areas downhill from the recent La Tuna fire.

An evacuation center will be established at Verdugo Recreation Center at 3201 W. Verdugo Ave. The center will not accommodate animals.

How are the evacuations going in the burn areas?

It appeared that many were heeding orders to leave.

Although threatened Santa Barbara County residents were given until noon to evacuate, an interactive map the county presented of high risk areas suddenly became inaccessible Tuesday morning. The county and contractors restored access to the map after several hours.

An evacuation center will be opened at Earl Warren Showgrounds, Warren Hall, at 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara. For help evacuating large and small animals, residents may call the Santa Barbara County Animal Services hotline at (805) 681-4332.

Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, said in a statement that the storm could be intense enough to cause flooding even without the recent fires.

“We could experience localized flooding and road closures which are not isolated to the burn areas,” Lewin said. “The threat of rock falls, mudslides and debris flow is high.”