The Flames and the Flood – Making sense of surf and tragedy amid a disastrous season in Southern California

The Flames and the Flood – Making sense of surf and tragedy amid a disastrous season in Southern California

The debris flow damage to the 101 in Montecito blocked traffic, prohibiting Santa Barbara drivers from accessing Rincon, as well as Ventura commuters from going north.

“We’re experienced and ready for fire in Santa Barbara,” said local surfer and Forest Service firefighter Spencer Gordon, “but we’re not so ready for bus-sized boulders coming down the mountain”.

Between the Thomas Fire and the Montecito mudslides, emergency workers of every ilk found themselves on the frontlines in Santa Barbara County for much of the California winter.

The view of the encroaching Thomas Fire from Leadbetter Point, a popular surf break in Santa Barbara.

Due to the steep terrain of the Santa Ynez mountains and because the fire had destroyed vegetation that would have held hillsides in place (as well as the fact that wildfires chemically change soil in a way that prevents the earth from retaining water), flash floods and debris flows were expected.

On January 12, I received a text from a friend, Koby Robertson, in Santa Barbara who said he’d been boating into Rincon.

The idea of surfing empty, overhead Rincon contaminated my better judgment and put me over the Grapevine on the road to Bakersfield before heading west and then south on dual lane highways–the long, long way to Santa Barbara.

Read more here: Surfer Mag

The Flames and the Flood   Making sense of surf and tragedy amid a disastrous season in Southern California surf photo  The Flames and the Flood   Making sense of surf and tragedy amid a disastrous season in Southern California surf photo  The Flames and the Flood   Making sense of surf and tragedy amid a disastrous season in Southern California surf photo

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