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1995 Floods

San Pedro Creek flooding, January 10, 1995

The winter of 1995 saw two major storm-related flooding events — first on January 10 , the second on March 10. Both caused significant flooding of creeks along the South Coast and shut down road and rail transportation for several hours. 

The January 10 flood affected some 510 properties and caused roughly $50 million of damage. In Goleta, debris clogged culverts under Los Carneros Road and Highway 101, causing the Carneros and San Pedro creeks to overtop the highway and flow down Calle Real. Homes in the vicinity were flooded with up to three feet of mud and debris. San Jose Creek overflowed near Highway 217, causing severe severe flooding in downtown Goleta. Santa Barbara Airport, located in the Goleta Slough region near the convergence of all five of the area’s major creeks, was flooded for three days and out of service to all aircraft other than helicopters. Flood damage was mitigated along Atascadero Creek due to a channel clearing project that had been completed days prior to the storm’s arrival. 

In Santa Barbara, Mission Creek gauges reported peak flows at 5,000 cubic feet per second, overtopping its banks at the De la Vina Street bridge near Alamar Avenue, causing flooding of the Cottage Hospital neighborhood. The creek also jumped its banks again at De la Guerra Street and flowed uncontrolled through the city to the ocean. Sycamore Creek flooded the five-way intersection at the top of North Salinas Street and, further downstream, the trailer parks near Highway 101. 

Flooding in Montecito was less severe due to debris basins and channel clearing. However, on Mountain Drive, Bella Vista, and San Ysidro, plugged culverts caused creeks to divert down alternate routes for long distances before returning to their usual channels. These diversions caused serious roadway flooding and damage to residential structures. Montecito Creek also jumped is bank and flowed down Olive Mill Road, causing flooding in the neighborhood around Danielson Road and Virginia Lane. 

The flooding event on March 10 played out in a similar fashion, with many of the same areas being hit. Some 300 structures were flooded causing about $30 million in damages. The airport was again flooded for days and San Jose Creek rushed at over 5,000 cubic feet per second, causing flooding in downtown Goleta. In Santa Barbara, the Mission Street underpass flooded, and a man drowned when he was swept away on Sycamore Canyon Road.

Oak Creek flooding, January 10, 1995
San Pedro Creek flooding, January 10, 1995
Mission Creek flooding, January 10, 1995
Flood rescue, January 25, 1995
Flooded areas, January 10, 1995
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