Storm weakening after pounding waves close beaches and damage Avila pier

jlavelle@thetribunenews.comMarch 1, 2014 

After two stormy days of buffeting winds, pier-damaging surf, and much-needed rain, the rainbow that sparkled above San Luis Obispo at about 4:15 p.m. Saturday was a reassuring sight.

And along with the rainbow came calmer skies, as the 35 mph winds that had blown a few tree limbs onto roadways started to die down.

More showers and breezes are expected through Saturday night, but on Sunday the storm will give way to partly cloudy skies and a warming trend by Tuesday.

The storm dropped 1 to 5 inches of rain or more between Thursday night and 3 p.m. Saturday, with the heaviest rain soaking the inland North County, according to data collected by PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey. Along the South County coast, less than 1.5 inches of rain fell in Oceano and Pismo Beach.

But what the coast didn’t get in rain, it made up for in dramatic beach weather on Saturday. The National Weather Service issued a coastal flooding and high surf advisory from Friday until today. On Saturday, officials closed beaches and the Pismo Beach pier as waves up to 20 feet rolled in during an exceptionally high tide in the morning.

On Saturday night, the pier was still closed to the public although no damage was reported. Just to the north, the Avila Beach pier fared less well. The Avila pier and beach were both closed off at 10 a.m. Saturday as storm waves from the southwest battered the structure.

“What that did was to bring very large waves into Avila,” said Steve McGrath, harbor manager for the Port San Luis Harbor District. “They beat on the bottom of the pier and popped some of the pier deck boards loose. We don’t have any structural damage to the pier but we do have the pier closed.”

In Morro Bay, two Morro Bay Police Department volunteers had the unenviable task of telling angry residents they weren’t allowed to walk around the south side of Morro Rock while the roiling surf was crashing over the jetty.

Resident Dan Nichols was among the indignant viewers. "I just want to do what I've always done, which is to walk out there and watch the waves," he said. "Everybody goes out there to watch when the waves are big. Who are they trying to protect?"

Morro Bay Harbor Patrol Officer Scott Mather said the city closed pedestrian access for the first time ever as a precaution against someone being washed into the sea.

“This was the largest swell we’ve had in a long time and a super high tide,” he said. “The jetty was covered with water.”

By 11:30 a.m., the gate was reopened.

In Cayucos, families bundled up in rain gear Saturday morning took photos of the foaming surf rolling onto the beach and crashing into the aging pier, which was already closed for repairs.

Sage Hanft, 12, and friend Chloe Phillips, 11, ran along the pier to watch a tennis ball bobbing in the storm waves.

"We like playing in the rain," Sage said. "Sometimes we ride our bikes in it."

Chloe said that she also misses warm, sunny weather but knows the region needs a downpour. "Sometimes I'm sad when it keeps raining," she said. "But it's good for the community."

While many enjoyed the blustery weather, PG&E crews spent the day fixing minor power outages scattered around the county. AT 9 p.m., about 220 customers remained without power due to a broken power pole in Atascadero. The downed pole was near Highway 41 East and Rocky Canyon Road.

Even with slick roads, no major car crashes occurred Saturday, although the CHP and local police were kept busy with a number of non-injury accidents.

 

RAINFALL TOTALS

Thursday through 3 p.m. Saturday

Arroyo Grande ......... 1.99"

Atascadero .............. 3.70"

Avila Valley ............. 1.57"

Baywood Park........... 2.07"

Cal Poly ................... 3.45"

Cambria .................. 1.69"

Camp San Luis ......... 3.62"

Cayucos ................... 2.70"

Creston elementary school. 3.19"

Diablo Canyon .......... 1.72"

Islay Hill .................. 3.10"

Los Osos .................. 3.03"

Mission College Prep.. 3.47"

Morro Bay ................ 1.67"

Nipomo Trilogy ......... 3.10"

Oceano .................... 1.06"

Paso Robles Airport ... 1.77"

Paul's House (41W & Toro Creek) .. 5.05"

Pismo Beach ............. 1.45"

Point San Luis Lighthouse ...1.04"

Santa Margarita ........ 5.62”

San Luis Obispo Prefumo Canyon ...3.92"

San Simeon ............. 1.77"

Shandon ................... 2.05"

Shell Beach................1.60"

Templeton ............... 3.03"

SOURCE: John Lindsey

Stay updated by adding Janet Lavelle on Google+.

The Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service