Articles | Volume 18, issue 11
Brief communication
19 Nov 2018
Brief communication |  | 19 Nov 2018

Brief communication: Meteorological and climatological conditions associated with the 9 January 2018 post-fire debris flows in Montecito and Carpinteria, California, USA

Nina S. Oakley, Forest Cannon, Robert Munroe, Jeremy T. Lancaster, David Gomberg, and F. Martin Ralph

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Cited articles

American Meteorological Society (AMS): Glossary of Meteorology: Atmospheric River, available at:, last access: 1 April 2018. 
Bonnin, G. M., Martin, D., Lin, B., Parzybok, T., Yekta, M., and Riley, D.: Precipitation-frequency atlas of the United States, NOAA Atlas, 14, 1–65, 2006. 
CAL FIRE: Thomas Fire Watershed Emergency Response Team Final Report, available at:, last access: 12 April 2018. 
California Department of Insurance: Montecito mudslide claims top $421 million, available at:, last access: 4 April 2018. 
County of Santa Barbara: Thomas Fire and 1/9 debris flow recovery strategic plan, available at:, last access: 8 June 2018. 
Short summary
The 9 January 2018 post-fire debris flows in Montecito and Carpinteria, California, killed 23 people and destroyed over 100 homes. We examine the meteorological conditions of the event and find that a narrow band of high-intensity rainfall along a cold front triggered the debris flow. Observed rainfall rates were extreme, but not unprecedented for the region. This work increases awareness of these rainbands as a post-fire hazard in California and other midlatitude regions impacted by wildfire.
Final-revised paper