Tens of thousands of Californians evacuate as storm brings mudslide risk

By Sonya Hamasaki and Steve Almasy

(CNN) -- Tens of thousands of Californians have been ordered to evacuate as an approaching storm brings the risks of "dangerous flash flooding, mud and debris flow," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Thursday.

Mandatory evacuations of more than 20,000 people in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Summerland and Carpinteria were effective immediately, Brown said.

The order also includes Montecito, the community where at least 21 people were killed and two people were never found after mudflows in January. The evacuations were taking place in areas scorched by December's massive Thomas Fire and two other blazes.

"This is a challenging storm," Brown said.

The National Weather Service office in Los Angeles said 2 to 3 inches of rain could fall through Saturday.

A flash flood watch was scheduled to take effect at 9 p.m. PT for parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura County.

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