An evacuation warning for South Coast communities in Santa Barbara County below recent burn areas was issued Tuesday night ahead of a storm that has potential to drop heavy rainfall on the region this week.
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The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office elevated the “pre-evacuation advisory,” which was issued Sunday, to a “recommended evacuation warning,” effective at 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to the county.
The warning applies to the Thomas Fire, Sherpa Fire and Whittier Fire burn areas, in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.
As of Tuesday night, the National Weather Service forecast a storm hitting Santa Barbara County on Thursday night through Friday, with rainfall reaching rates of 1/3-inch to 2/3-inch per hour.
“Moderate to heavy rainfall early Friday could be enough to generate isolated debris flows” near burn areas, according to the county.
Communities below recent burn areas are “strongly recommended to relocate to safer locations for their own safety,” the county said in an emergency notification Tuesday night. “High risk for loss of life and property exists.”
Schools will be open Wednesday, and more evacuation information will be issued by 6 p.m. that day, the county said.
Evacuation center and animal shelter information will also be released Wednesday.
If mandatory evacuation orders are issued, they would go into effect by 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the county.
Following Santa Barbara County’s new storm-related evacuation timeline, mandatory evacuation orders mean everyone in designated evacuation areas is ordered to “relocate to safer locations for their safety.”
“Persons who refuse to comply with a mandatory evacuation order will not be forcibly removed from their homes. However, they should not expect rescue or other lifesaving assistance after the onset of the emergency event,” according to the county.