Radical winter weather moves through without major damage

Lightning show rattles many residents

This burnt palm tree in Goleta is a reminder of the violent thunder and lightning storm that came through Tuesday evening.  (John Palminteri/

SANTA BARBARA Co., Calif. - Thunder, lightning, rain and hail in a three-hour period Tuesday night was a recipe for major problems, but that didn't happen on the South Coast.

A very loud and explosive storm emerged about 7 p.m. from the Pacific Ocean and spread over land with lightning strikes every few minutes and thunder like the sound of bowling balls in the sky.

"Thunder was really exciting and we went out and watched that," said Montecito resident Phil Landfried.

He says he knew the storm was coming but the type of storm was hard to see in advance. "It is so unpredictable now with the stuff just coming and coming and coming.  You have to check the weather app hourly almost," Landfried said.

8-year-old Daniel Barron said of the lightning: "The thunder bolts make it look like daytime."

Karina Barron, his mom said, "he loves it.  Any chance he gets to put his rain boots on he loves it."

One of the lightning strikes hit a palm tree and set in on fire in Goleta on Hollister and Fairview. Wednesday the evidence was a tree with a burnt top. No buildings nearby were damage.

At the Santa Barbara Airport with weather taking out some lights temporarily during the storm,  there's nothing that's had a long impact on the carriers or travelers.

On San Marcos Pass the rain this year has been steady and solid. It's  awaken some of the quiet waterfalls on Painted Cave Road. They are appearing in several locations.

Bill Kendall said, "This is good rain.  I just got back from Lake Cachuma and Cachuma was just as full as I have seen it in a long time."

We checked in on Cachuma Lake in the area where a clogged culvert damaged Highway 154 last month forcing traffic to be rerouted for four weeks.

There's no storm damage this time and the lake is getting all the water. That is helping to quickly raise the level. It's now at 66 percent of capacity.

Landfried said,  "the last time it spilled it went up 30,000 acre feet in a few days within a couple of days."

The front country creeks have been handling this rain much better than the over flow issues on February 2nd which led to flooding and shut down the freeway.

The volume of rain has come in cycles, and in between everything drained down. What has come down in the latest wave of weather  stayed within the banks. The creeks and debris basins in many areas were aggressively cleaned out.

The railroad tracks stayed clear and the morning AMTRAK Pacific Surfliner came through Carpinteria a little after 7 a.m., with no debris or trees on the rails.

The overnight Coast Starlight had to hold in Santa Barbara for over an hour while a mechanical issue was taken care of.

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