Update, 12:15 p.m. Wednesday
Highway 101 in southern Santa Barbara County will remain closed until at least Jan. 15, Caltrans said at noon Wednesday. More information on the closure can be found here: Highway 101 will be closed through the weekend — at least.
Highway 101 through Montecito is expected to remain closed until Thursday night because of the severe damage caused by flooding and mudslides in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday, according to an update from Caltrans.
Officials encouraged the public to avoid any non-essential travel in the area, and to use Interstate 5 as a detour to and from Southern California.
“There is substantial debris, mud, water, vehicles and possible infrastructure damage along U.S. 101 from Hot Springs Road to Sheffield Road, plus a Flash Flood Watch until 10 p.m.,” Caltrans District 5 spokesman Colin Jones said Tuesday afternoon.
Capt. Cindy Pontes of the Santa Barbara division of the California Highway Patrol said that northbound Highway 101 was shut down in Ventura County at Highway 126 and again at Seacliff. In Santa Barbara County, southbound Highway 101 was shut down at Milpas Street.
“Honestly, we don’t know,” Pontes said in regards to when Highway 101 will reopen. “We’re hoping for 48 hours, but it could be longer.”
Pontes said there was a water main break earlier on Tuesday at Olive Mill Road that flooded the freeway and water and debris was still coming down onto 101.
Railroad traffic through the area also was halted, as much of the track through Montecito was covered with mud and debris.
Noozhawk.com staff writers Tom Bolton and Giana Magnoli contributed to this report.