California’s rainy season last year may have replenished reservoirs in most parts of the state after a long, crippling drought, but the precipitation largely bypassed an area northwest of Los Angeles, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Santa Barbara is now in its seventh year of drought and there are worries that similar conditions will return elsewhere in the Golden State.
Under these difficult circumstances, incoming rain—like the heavy precipitation that’s expected this week in parts of Southern California—would be welcomed as good news. But that’s not necessarily the case in the areas impacted by recent wildfires, including Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, where upwards of 4 inches of rains is predicted through Tuesday evening in some spots.
Rainfall can quickly turn that scorched landscape into mud and lead to landslides and flash flooding. Those conditions can not only bring more damage but can be deadly, too.
Hydrologists from the Ventura County Public Works Agency, which is part of the multi-jurisdictional team leading Thomas Fire recovery efforts, have warned residents in the Ojai Valley to expect twice the amount of water, debris and mud in local waterways as would normally be expected this time of year, according to the Ojai Valley News.