With the strongest storm of the season bearing down on Southern California, local agencies are working hard to connect residents with the information and resources they need to weather the weather.
The National Weather Service is anticipating "periods of moderate to heavy rain in the region due to the large and powerful storm system making its way in from the Pacific Ocean."
A flash flood watch is in effect and weather officials say "mud and debris flows are likely in and around recent burn areas."
Here are five big questions you may have about the storm.
WHAT PREPARATIONS ARE BEING MADE BY LOCAL AGENCIES?
Dave Zaniboni, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, says that while there is no way to know precisely what areas will get hit by mudslides or debris flows, teams pre-positioned throughout Santa Barabara and Ventura counties are prepared to respond to whatever the storm throws their way.
That includes increasing the levels of staffing and equipment in three distinct phases:
- 80 extra personnel deployed by Tuesday evening
- 182 extra personnel by Wednesday morning
- 365 extra personnel by Wednesday evening
Among those additional resources will be three swift water rescue teams, three urban search and rescue teams and 10 additional engines, according to Zaniboni.
"We're taking this very serious," he said. "The (NWS) is pretty certain that this storm is going to materialize for us."
WHERE CAN I GET SANDBAGS?
With that threat of flooding comes the need for sandbags.
In Ventura County, the Sheriff’s Department has 40,000 surplus sandbags from the Department of Defense which are available to the public. Inmates at the Todd Road Jail have also been steadily filling sandbags for residents. More information is available here.
In Los Angeles County, the L.A. Fire Department provides free ready-to-fill sandbags at every neighborhood fire station, with free sand also available at select stations. There is a limit of 25 bags per household. You can learn more here.
WHERE ARE THE MANDATORY EVACUATIONS?
The following evacuations go into effect Tuesday at 12 p.m.:
Santa Barbara County
Mandatory evacuations have been issued for extreme and high risk areas, as seen on this map. This includes the Whittier and Sherpa fire burn areas, as well as part of the Thomas Fire burn area.
- Matilija Canyon
- North Fork
- Vista Fire Burn Area – Division Z
- Vista Fire Burn Area – Division B
- Nye Road; west: Highway 33; south: Nye/Highway 33
- La Conchita
These evacuations also go into effect Tuesday at 12 p.m.
Santa Barbara County
Those in the Alamo Fire burn area are under recommended evacuation orders. See the affected area on this map.
- Casitas Pass Road, between Santa Ana Road & Rincon Road
- Ojai Road, between Thomas Aquinas College Road and Reeves Road
- Ojai Road, between Thomas Aquinas College and Bridge Road
- East Ojai, from Gridley Road east to Reeves Road
- Norway Tract, east side of Floral Drive
WHERE CAN I FIND A SHELTER?
Santa Barbara County: The Red Cross will open an evacuation center in Warren Hall at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real, at noon on Tuesday.
Ventura County: A Red Cross emergency evacuation shelter will be opened at Ventura College beginning at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20. The college is at 4667 Telegraph Rd.
WHAT ELSE IS CLOSED?
In Los Angeles County, Burbank police announced the closures of all hiking trails in the city, as well as the Stough Canyon Nature Center and Wildwood Canyon recreational areas, effective 3 p.m. Tuesday.