The Montecito Fire Department urged residents to immediately leave their homes on Monday after heavy rain deluged the area from the early hours, with worse to come this afternoon and evening. The fire department later tweeted that their website had crashed due to heavy traffic.
The National Weather Service reported that at least eight inches of rain fell over 12 hours, with several more inches predicted as the storm system swept through the area of wooded hillsides and secluded large homes.
Santa Barbara emergency officials subsequently issued a shelter in place warning for those not already evacuated, advising them to go to innermost room or high ground.
More severe weather is forecast for California this week after days of heavy rain, snow and damaging winds, raising the potential for flooding, rising rivers and mudslides on already saturated soils.
A flash flood warning is in place with Santa Barbara, where Montecito is located, along with neighouring counties of Santa Maria and Lompoc until 4.45pm (PST), the National Weather Service (NWS) reported. Parts of the coastal Highway 1 were closed due to flooding, officials warned.
On 9th January 2018, 23 people were killed in a mudslide in Montecito and many homes were destroyed. A “Raising Our Light” remembrance event to mark the anniversary of the disaster was canceled due to the extreme weather on Monday.
It is unclear whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their two young children were at home when the evacuation order was issued. The Independent has contacted their representatives for comment.
Prince Harry has been the subject of wall-to-wall media coverage for days ahead of the publication of his memoir, Spare, on Tuesday. He spoke about his relationship with the royal family and alleged mistreatment of himself and his wife in a series of TV interviews with ITV, Good Morning America and 60 Minutes which were aired ahead of the book’s release.
Other residents of the ritzy, coastal enclave include Oprah Winfrey, Adam Levine and Ellen DeGeneres. The evacuation order affects about 10,000 people.
The canyon communities under evacuation orders are under hillsides burned bare in recent years by wildfires, and where the heavy rainfall has already flooded roads and swollen waterways.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the decision to evacuate came “based on the continuing high rate of rainfall with no indication that that is going to change before nightfall,” per NBC News.
The intense “atmospheric river” will also bring 60mph winds and the possibility of flash flooding and debris flows in burn scar areas in the state, NWS reported.
More than 104,000 people were currently without power across the state, according to utility tracker poweroutage.us.