The deaths of the victims during Major Pacific Storm Nikita’s mudslide in the Montecito area were in the voluntary evacuation zone, not the mandatory one. NOAA’s incompetence in warning both to emergency managers and over the emergency phone broadcast system are to blame for these deaths so read on for details.
It is very rare as a meteorologist that I get upset over a under-done forecast from another agency but no one else has the galls to say what I am about to say. Sure I’ll get a bit upset at one, but will forget about it the next day. What NOAA did in being part of these deaths will haunt me for the rest of my life, but it will allow me to continue the Southern California Weather Force, pushing it to become the people’s weather service that they can come to trust. So let’s go into how that storm went.
No doubt a week before it hit I was watching the very real chance that this could be a whooper. Spending countless hours working the algorithm values, it was five days before that I went with a 6″ or higher forecast for rainfall in a short period of time in the Eastern Santa Barbara and Western Ventura Foothill regions. I stated this event would be similar to a volcanic lahar, or fast moving river of trees, mud, and water moving down those mountain slopes and not stopping till it got to the a leveled area… in this case would be the 101 freeway and the ocean. At that time NOAA went with 2-4″ in the highest amount locations, which under-did the amounts that reality would throw.
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Jeff Gater, Santa Barbara County’s emergency manager, said the alert was sent because of deteriorating conditions and followed one issued by the National Weather Service.
Gater’s statement leads me to the conclusion that NOAA’s National Weather Service waited till it was too late to send an alert with strong wording that this flooding was happening when in reality my 6+” forecast and flood risk model of extreme clearly said get out.
My Flood Risk chart is members only, however I did show it numerous times on the page with the magenta shaded zone showing extreme flood risk. My flood risk chart it not built on how much storm total one will have, but rather the risk of flooding based off how much rain in a short period of time would happen. Montecito was included and was the center of the extreme risk, which is the image in this article.
In conclusion had I been in charge of the weather forecasts for the victim’s area, I would have sent out strong wording to all sections of Eastern Santa Barbara County to Western Ventura County from the foothills to the coast for a lahar to hit and give a three day notice, which would have been enough time for these people to get out.
So… This is why I continue to say to you that NOAA cannot be trusted in Southern California. Sure, maybe other areas they can… but NOT here. They do not understand micro-climate forecasting. It is sad that with over 5 offices of theirs in different corners of Southern California controlling 10 counties within our region that one person, me, can literally handle weather alerts and forecasts in one simple upstairs home office with a full weather studio. I’ll be around as long as you and the members want my services, but I’ll continue to push this service out there as it has now proven again it has saved lives from what my readers/viewers have told me.
The tornadoes that hit Los Angeles County will likely never be recognized by NOAA as tornadoes even though I predicted the dynamics to happen and we have many eyewitnesses, photos, and video of the event. I took a look at the video across Long Beach of the damage track and by the look of the tree branches, trampolines, and roof tiles, it was obvious that some went north, others went south, east or west from where they had said their position was, which signifies twisting winds, aka a tornado, and NOT straight-line winds.
Who are you going to believe? An incompetent government agency within Southern California that didn’t warn enough and as a result people died? Likely meteorologists that graduated and was born outside of Southern California’s not knowing our micro-climates. Or a forecast service, private, for the people, from a meteorologist that was born here in Southern California and learning the micro-climates for over 20 years now …
Imagine this… I had countdown clocks to the Thomas Fire Burn Areas. As I was developing the clocks and finally gave them to the public… I was literally sick because I knew that these people were not getting the strong forecast wording and that the event was being under-done and by looking at the countdown clock to me it wasn’t about the front hitting then… it was how many hours/minutes some people had to live and that I was staring at people’s countdown clock to the end of their life… Imagine that for one second what I go through sometimes in this industry …