Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted Friday morning for areas of Santa Barbara County where officials were initially concerned a winter storm could bring more destructive mudslides to the region's recent burn areas.
The storm, which arrived overnight Thursday, was expected to bring about an inch of rain to the coastal and valley areas and occasionally drop heavy showers, the National Weather Service stated. Foothill and mountain areas were expected to see as much as 3 inches of rain from the storm.
A debris flow from heavy rainfall early Friday morning prompted officials to close State Route 33 at Fairview Road near Ojai, the California Highway Patrol tweeted just after 4 a.m.
The highway would remain closed until 6 p.m., Caltrans later tweeted.
A flash flood warning was issued Friday morning in Central Santa Barbara County. Heavy rainfall was being reported for areas of the Thomas Fire burn area as of 4 a.m. The warning was set to expire at 6:45 a.m.
A flash flood watch was also in place for areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, where rainfall rates of a half-inch per hour were possible, according to the Weather Service. The flash flood watch was scheduled to remain in place until 3 p.m. for the Creek Fire and La Tuna burn areas.
Officials were concerned the storm could cause dangerous-flash floods in an area where mudslides killed at least 21 people and destroyed or damaged several homes in January.
Thursday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents near the Thomas, Sherpa, and Whittier fire burn areas. The orders include the communities of Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Summerland and Carpinteria.
The orders were lifted at 9 a.m. Friday, Santa Barbara County officials tweeted.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, in consultation with fire agencies and other public safety officials, has announced that effective at 9 a.m. today, March 2, Mandatory Evacuation Orders are lifted for all areas. https://t.co/fDjbhS0fTF #805strong #ReadySBC #CAstorm
— Santa Barbara County (@countyofsb) March 2, 2018
The storm is expected to continue to bring rain and snow to Southern California into Saturday according to forecasters.
Snow levels are expected to drop to 4,500 feet by Saturday morning. Total snowfall of 12 inches or more through Saturday will be possible in higher elevation mountain areas, the Weather Service stated.