A series of strong storms over the weekend helped to relieve the drought-stricken lands known as Ventura County.
Beginning on Thursday, Jan. 19, the first of three storms made its way into the county, followed by a stronger storm on Friday — a brief interlude on Saturday — and the strongest of the storms on Sunday through Monday morning. Areas of the county experienced small debris flows and localized flooding, with one family requiring rescue by the Ventura County Fire Department after their vehicle became stuck in flood waters at an intersection of Pleasant Valley Road in Camarillo.
Record amounts of rainfall came down over both Ventura and Los Angeles counties, with the former receiving between 3 and 8 inches over the four-day period, including record snowfall that closed Highway 33 in upper Ojai for a period of time.
Rain totals as of 4 a.m. Monday include 1.64 inches in Ventura, 3.04 inches in Ojai, 2.51 in Oxnard and 2.76 inches in Camarillo.
In early January, it was reported that much of California’s drought had been ameliorated by heavy storms — but not Ventura County, which remained in the severe drought category. In October 2016, 21 percent of the state was in the severe drought category; after the rains that began in December, only 2 percent held that distinction — which includes Ventura County.
As of Tuesday morning, Jan. 24, the United Water Conservation District reported that much of the county received more rain over the four-day period than is average for the entire year and that the Ventura River discharge elevated from next to nothing to over 6,000 cubic-feet-per-second of water between Jan. 20 and 24 but the area would need a continual series of such storms for three years to mitigate the damage caused by the years of severe drought.
The city of Ventura has been paying a fee to maintain state water infrastructure that delivers imported water, but has been receiving water via the United Water Conservation District and Calleguas Municipal Water District instead. The Council voted 7-0 Monday, Jan. 23, to fund a $653,000 study, offset partially by payments from the two districts, which will study design and feasibility of connecting to the state system.