storm /stôrm/ – noun – a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow.
We certainly had a storm this past weekend, to say the least. Most of the forest received somewhere in the 5-10″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with snow piling up at the higher elevations. It was a bit of a crazy storm as well including reports of 80mph winds in some locations, a tornado warning in Santa Barbara County and even a kiosk in Big Sur being lifted away and blown across Hwy 1. While we haven’t seen a whole lot of trail damage reports just yet, which we’re sure will come in soon, we have quite a few road closure updates to share as well as other storm related updates:
- Maybe the most dramatic images of this past storm were taken by Cynthi Bacon who filmed a debris flow tearing out of the Whittier Fire burn area near Lake Cachuma. This flow, along with others, blocked the culverts under Hwy 154 and have caused an indefinite closure of Hwy 154.
- Montecito once again received a ton of rain within the Thomas Fire scar but thankfully it appears that all the prep-work on the creeks and basins paid off. Here’s an amazing video taken by Tim Sulger showing some of the raging water that came through Montecito last Saturday. While Hwy 101 was closed, it is back open again.
- Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley due to slides but is scheduled to reopen before the weekend. There will be delays even after reopening due to single lane closures and repair crews.
- Speaking of Hwy 33, there were some stranded backpackers along the Sespe Trail who needed rescuing over the weekend as well. I would love to see some photos of what the Sespe looked like, must have been horrifying!
- All gates are currently closed on the Ojai Ranger District. Rose Valley and Middle Lion Camps are closed due to mud and damaged roads.
- A sinkhole developed along East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara that wiped out half the road (see photo above). The FS has closed East Camino Cielo east of Gibraltar Road including Divide Peak OHV.
- Sage Hill and First Crossing remain closed along Paradise Road due to high water.
- Highway 1 remains closed at Paul’s slide but should be reopening perhaps as early as today. Remember that CalTrans continues to proactively close Hwy 1 ahead of each significant rain event. Cone Peak Road is closed for the season and Palo Colorado remains closed due to 2017 storm damage. Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd is open.
Maybe it would have been quicker to report everything that was open?!!? There are more storms on tap for this weekend and most of next week as well. If you are planning to head into the Los Padres, please use caution and be careful, especially in recent burn areas.
• Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara TONIGHT Wednesday – February 6 to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news. They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry. You can learn more on our Facebook page. We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about. It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……
• The Forest Service announced earlier this week that there will be an extended ban on all target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest for the next year. Target shooting will remain legal at the two designated target ranges within the Los Padres: Winchester and Rose Valley. You can read the FS explanation here.
• Do you have any great photos of the Ojai Backcountry or Hwy 33 corridor through Ventura County? The LPFA is once again organizing a series of interpretive events this coming summer to be held at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. Each year we print a brochure highlighting these events and our annual Open House and this year we are looking for a terrific cover photo for the brochure that captures the beauty and essence of the Ojai Backcountry. If you have any photos to submit or questions, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org We’ll hook the winning photographer up with some great LP gear!
• The landowners along Prewitt Ridge in Monterey County have started a GoFundMe to assist with maintaining the road east of Nacimiento-Fergusson. This road sees a lot of traffic, in particular campers, and gets thrashed by winter storms and improper use. If you’d like to learn more or to help, check this link here.