Noteworthy times on the night of January 9, 2018
- 3:20am: An intense yellow storm cell over the ocean is heading towards shore.
- 3:34am: It turns red as it begins to make landfall.
- 3:44am: Yellow appears within the burn above Montecito -- USGS thresholds may be exceeded very soon.
- 3:48am: Red areas appear in the burn above Montecito -- they've exceeded USGS debris flow thresholds.
- 4:08am: The first report of a debris flow appeared on twitter. SB Sheriffs reported that their vehicles were stuck in mud in Montecito.
This site is no longer updating as of May 2020
USGS is no longer producing updated thresholds for debris flow risk around the Thomas Fire. As such, this site is no longer providing live updates.
Live Rainfall & Debris Flow Risk
This map highlights areas that have received enough total rain to exceed the USGS thresholds for debris flow risk. It is based on real-time NOAA/NWS radar rain data, updated every 2min. If a burned area exceeds thresholds, anyone downhill is in danger.
- Red areas have recent rain totals that exceed USGS thresholds for debris flow risk.
- Yellow areas are likely to exceed thresholds very soon, possibly within minutes.
- Green areas are places where it is raining, but currently not expected to cross USGS thresholds.
- The solid line is the Thomas Fire burn perimeter. The dashed lines show watershed boundaries.
Leave when authorities issue evacuation orders!
This website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on it for your safety. By the time the map shows red in a burned area, it's probably too late to try and flee. Move to a safe location when the authorities issue evacuation notices. This tool is brand new, and very experimental.
Conditions on January 9
This tool didn't exist on January 9, 2018 when debris flows occurred in Montecito. But, you can look back at those events and view the hour between 3:20 and 4:20am.
This visualization is based on a real-time feed of NOAA's MRMS Q3 Radar Only Rate rainfall data derived from the NEXRAD weather radar in Vandenberg, CA. The map updates whenever NOAA's systems publish new data, which is usually every 2min. Therefore, the data displayed will usually be 2-4min old, or more if there are any processing delays. The timestamp on the map reflects the timestamp in the MRMS data.
The visualization keeps track of recent rainfall totals for every 1km x 1km grid cell in the NOAA dataset, to identify cells which have already exceeded USGS thresholds. It also combines recent rainfall totals with the latest rainfall rates to extrapolate when cells may soon exceed thresholds.
- Red cells have received more than USGS thresholds. Currently those thresholds are 0.4" of total rain in the last 15min, more than 0.6" in the last 30min or more than 0.8" in the last 60min. Before October of 2018 these thresholds were 0.24" of total rain in the last 15min, more than 0.3" in the last 30min or more than 0.5" in the last 60min.
- Yellow cells have not yet exceeded thresholds, but are expected to soon. Their total rainfall in recent minutes combined with their latest rainfall rate indicate that they may soon exceed one of the thresholds.
- Green cells have recent rainfall totals that are below all the thresholds, and the latest rainfall rates don't imply they will exceed any of the thresholds. Their latest rainfall rate is therefore less than 0.5"/hour.
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