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Record rainfall for parts of Tri-Counties leads to stranded motorists, home flooding

Flooding on the Highway 101 southbound Mission Street offramp in Santa Barbara
Caltrans District 5
Flooding on the Highway 101 southbound Mission Street offramp in Santa Barbara

Oxnard had 3" of rain in less than an hour, more than its entire monthly average for the month of December.

The storm hitting the Tri Counties has turned out to be as big as advertised, with four to six inches of rain, and locally even more. But, perhaps nothing is as dramatic as the rainfall in Oxnard, which got more than a month’s worth of rain in less than an hour.

A thunderstorm hit the Oxnard and Port Hueneme areas at around 1:30 Thursday morning. Three inches of rain fell in less than an hour. It flooded streets, stranding some people who had to be rescued by firefighters. A number of homes were flooded.

Rainfall totals for the last five days from the pair of storms to hit the region include 5.5” in Oxnard, 3” in Santa Paula, 6.2” in Santa Barbara, 3.5” in Solvang, and 3.8” in San Luis Obispo.

The really impressive rainfall totals from this week’s pair of storms come from the Tri-Counties mountains. San Marcos Pass had 8.6”. Matilija Canyon in Ventura Canyon has had 9.7” of rain, and Gibraltar Peak above Montecito received 10.5”.

But, the topper is Rocky Butte. It’s the mountains of northwestern San Luis Obispo County. It’s had 15.9” of rainfall.

The rain isn’t over. The storm shifted south, so the focus is on Southern Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County, which could get another 1 to 3” of rain. The storm will turn into showers Friday, with clearing for the holiday weekend.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.