Severe Storms


Ventura County’s mediterranean climate typically results in warm, dry summers, and cool, wet winters. Most rainfall in our area occurs between the months of October and April. Given our climate and geography, however, the amount of precipitation we receive can vary rather dramatically from year to year.


El Niño is a phenomenon that is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific that may impact weather systems and climate around the globe. In general, El Niño events result in increased precipitation across California during the winter month. In contrast, La Niña events are characterized by cooler ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific that often result in drier winters.

For the latest update on El Niño and the potential impacts for Southwest CA:


Download the Ready, Set, Go Guide 


The best preparation for possible storm events is to plan ahead.

  • Assemble an emergency supply kit. Download the checklist: Emergency Supply Kit
  • Register your phone number(s) at so you can receive emergency messages.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance. Many homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage.
  • Create a list of items to take with you if you are asked to evacuate. In addition to your emergency supplies, consider items such as: keys, cash and credit cards; photos; insurance papers; computers; prescriptions; and pet supplies.
  • Clear debris from roof gutters, downspouts and drains so water can flow and drain properly.
  • Have a supply of sandbags and other flood prevention materials such as plastic sheeting, plywood and tarps.
  • Check the roof for leaks or damage. Pay special attention to areas where separation could occur, such as around the chimney.
  • Additional preparations can consist of very simple home maintenance but, depending on your circumstances, may involve the construction of permanent drainage systems, walls or other measures to divert water, mud or debris.
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, consider making permanent changes to your home such as constructing retaining walls and raising your furnace and electrical panel above potential flood levels.


When heavy rain has been forecast – or when heavy, steady rain is falling – monitor the news media, websites and social media sites for updated weather conditions. Practice “situational awareness.” Know and understand what is going on around you so that if conditions worsen you can take the necessary actions to protect your home and family.

  • Gather emergency supplies, evacuation items and review evacuation routes in case you are asked to evacuate.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur during periods of heavy or extended rain.
  • If there is any possibility of a flash flood in your area, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for an evacuation order.
  • Fill the gas tanks in your vehicles.
  • Bring in outside furniture that could be carried away by floodwaters.
  • Move furniture and other valuables to high points – upper floors if possible – in your home.
  • Fill and place sandbags if necessary.
  • Monitor gutters, drains and other areas that could cause flooding. Clear away debris immediately to prevent clogging or damming.


If flooding occurs, you are safest staying in your home if it is not being affected by floodwaters, mud or debris. If asked to evacuate, however, do so immediately and proceed to higher ground or an established evacuation center. If the water rises suddenly and you cannot evacuate, move to the second floor or, if necessary, the roof.

During a Flood

  • Remember to take your emergency supplies and valuables.
  • When asked to leave, evacuate to higher ground.
  • Stay out of floodwaters and avoid moving water. Do not try to walk, swim or drive through moving water. As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Two feet of water is enough to carry away a passenger vehicle.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and piles of debris.
  • Constantly monitor the news media and other information outlets for weather and emergency updates.
  • When evacuating, be aware of stream channels, drain channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods in these areas can occur without warning.
  • Avoid parking or camping near streams, rivers or creeks. The water may rise very quickly.
  • Use a secondary evacuation route if your primary route is blocked by water.

After a Flood

  • Stay away from areas damaged by floodwaters, mud or debris flows.
  • Continue to monitor the media and other sources of information. Additional flooding could occur.
  • Do not drive around barriers. Roadways may have been washed out, undermined or otherwise damaged by floodwaters.
  • Stay on firm ground. If forced to walk through mud-covered areas, use a stick to gauge the depth of the mud in front of you.
  • Avoid standing water. It may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or sewage, or electrically charged by underground or downed power lines.
  • Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters can erode roads and walkways. The area may be very slippery and make walking difficult. Flood debris may hide animals, broken glass or other dangerous items.
  • Use extreme caution when entering any buildings that were subjected to floodwaters, mud or debris. Floodwaters may have caused hidden damage, affected electrical systems or undermined the foundation.
  • Remove wet contents immediately. Clean and disinfect everything that got wet and safely discard anything that actually absorbed flood water.
  • Throw out any food items that have come in contact with floodwater.
  • Assume that drinking water is unsafe until you are told otherwise by authorities.
  • Take photos of damage for insurance claims.
  • Look for fire hazards: broken gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, etc.
  • Cover broken windows, holes in the roof, etc. to prevent further damage.


  • When possible, use close-weave burlap bags as sandbags.
  • Fill sandbags half-full. Use sand if it is available, but any local soil may be used.
  • Remove debris and obstructions from the area where the sandbags will be placed.
  • When placing sandbags, fold the top of the sandbag down and rest the bag on its folded top.
  • The half-filled bags should be placed lengthwise and parallel to the direction of the water flow. Stamp on the bags as they are placed to eliminate gaps.
  • Place the sandbags to redirect water, mud or debris, not dam it.
  • Do not place sandbags directly against the outer wall of a building. Wet bags can create added pressure on the foundation.
  • Sandbags should be placed in staggered layers. Limit the layers to three unless the sandbags are braced or stacked in pyramids.
  • It takes time to construct a wall of sandbags. Plan ahead! It is much easier to place sandbags before you are dealing with heavy runoff.

How Many Sand Bags Do I Need?

For 100 lineal feet of a sandbag wall:

  • One foot high: 600-800 bags, 10-13 cubic yards of sand.
  • Two feet high: 1,400-2,000 bags, 23-33 cubic yards of sand.
  • Three feet high: 2,200-3,400 bags, 37-57 cubic yards of sand.

For a list of Private Vendors who sell sandbags in Ventura County, click on the link below:


National Weather Service will issue Flood Related Alerts

Flash Flood Watch – Flooding is possible in your area

Flash Flood Advisory – Minor or nuisance Flooding is imminent or occurring

Flash Flood Warning – Flooding in your area is imminent or already occurring


Mandatory Evacuation

  • Mandatory Evacuation Orders may be initiated by law enforcement, Fire Departments, Public Health Agencies, and in rare cases some federal agencies when residents are requested to vacate the area due to an imminent threat. All non-essential persons are requested to leave the area immediately.
    • Conditions exist that SERIOUSLY IMPERIL or ENDANGER the lives of those in the defined area.
    • The danger is IMMINENT!
  • Generally, residents will not be forcibly removed from their own property however those found to be on public property including roadways and public parks may be subject to removal from the area.
  • Once out of the area, the general public (including residents) will not be permitted to return until conditions permit.
  • Any non-essential persons found by officials traveling through, or loitering in, the area will be escorted out and not permitted to re-enter the area. Those found to be interfering with the disaster response are SUBJECT TO ARREST.
  • Utility workers in work vehicles including Southern California Edison, the Gas Company, etc shall be permitted beyond closures for official business only.
  • Subsequent to §409.5(d) p.c., nothing shall prevent a duly authorized representative of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television station or network from entering the area unless the area is determined to be a crime scene.

Voluntary Evacuation

  • Voluntary Evacuations may be initiated by law enforcement, Fire Departments, Public Health Agencies, and in rare cases federal agencies. Voluntary Evacuation orders are issued when residents should begin preparing for a potential mandatory evacuation order to be issued.Access to the area under a voluntary evacuation order may or may not restricted by a soft or hard closure.
    • The threat to lives is NOT YET IMMINENT.
    • Due to the potential for rapidly changing conditions to develop into a serious threat, residents are advised to prepare for the issuance of an evacuation order.
  • Residents should prepare personal belongings including pets and livestock for evacuation.
  • Advance measures should be taken to prevent harm to individuals with mobility issues or other types of access and functional needs.

Shelter-in-Place Order

  • Conditions exist that may ENDANGER the lives of those in a defined area.
  • Access to the area under a shelter in place order may or may not be restricted by a soft or hard closure.
  • Residents should select an interior room or rooms within their home or business with no or few windows, and taking

Hard Road Closure

  • Law enforcement will prevent the general public from entering the area on foot or by vehicle.
    • In the case of a long-term closure, barricades may be used to maintain the closure in lieu of law enforcement personnel.
  • Subsequent to §409.5(d) p.c., nothing shall prevent a duly authorized representative of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television station or network from entering the area unless it is a secured crime scene.

Soft Road Closure

  • Law enforcement will prevent the general public from entering the area.
  • Those residents who reside in the impacted area will be allowed access with ID.


National Weather Service

For the National Winter Forecast:

Public Works Watershed Protection Agency

For Flood Preparedness information:

Rainfall and stream gauges in real-time:

Ventura County Fire Department

The Ventura County Fire Department is an all-hazard, full-service fire department providing fire protection, medical aid, rescue, hazardous materials response, among a variety of other services. Our response area covers 848 square miles and serves more than 480,000 people in unincorporated areas of Ventura County and six of its cities, including: Camarillo, Moorpark, Ojai, Port Hueneme, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks.

With heavy rain anticipated in Ventura County, VCFD is encouraging the public to take the steps necessary to protect themselves from injury and their property from storm damage. The best preparation for possible flooding is to plan ahead.

American Red Cross

Each year the American Red Cross immediately responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters in the U.S. Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) circulate throughout affected communities after disasters to hand out food, relief supplies, information and comfort to people in need. The Red Cross opens shelters to make sure people have a safe place to stay, a hot meal and access to other support. Relief items help people in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and in the days and weeks to follow.  Red Cross health and mental health volunteers travel to disaster sites to help people cope. After a disaster, the Red Cross works with community partners to provide hot meals, snacks, and water. Ninety-five percent of our disaster workers are volunteers from across the country.

Specific to Disaster Relief (What We Do):

Specific to Home-Family Preparation:

Disaster and Financial Planning Guide:

Resource Information and Checklists:

Ventura County Animal Services

Ventura County Animal Services is dedicated to saving the lives of animals during a disaster. Our department offers assistance to those who need evacuations during an emergency. If you need assistance, please contact 805-388-4341 or 1-866-EVRT-911 (during disasters only). You will find information about disaster preparedness  along with other information by visiting our website at When a disaster breaks, Animal Services is here to help.


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