A fast-moving cold front hit the Central Coast on Friday night and Saturday morning, delivering much-needed rain to the drought-stricken area, but dampening plans for some Halloween trick-or-treaters and causing a power outage that forced the postponement of a high school football game.
PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said the area was expected to get from 0.75 to 1.25 inches of rain out of the storm, which came ashore about 5 p.m. Friday in San Luis Obispo County.
“I think this first rain in October is really great news,” Lindsey said.
“Upper-level winds are going to strengthen this cold front. The track is shifting south, which brings rain to the area.”
The residential neighborhood around French Park in southern San Luis Obispo is normally packed with trick-or-treaters, but few were to be seen early Friday evening as rain pelted the sidewalks.
Elizabeth Medici and her two sons, Sullivan and Bear, both dressed as SWAT officers, were getting ready to head out to collect some candy. Medici said the rain was not going to stop their annual fun.
“No way!” she said defiantly. “The rain just makes it that much more of an adventure.”
The boys’ grandmother, Toni Copsey, said she was very happy it was raining after months of dry weather.
“Oh, I love it,” she enthused. “I love it anyway, but now I doubly love it.”
This is the first significant rain since April 26, when 0.11 of an inch fell at Cal Poly. This means it has been 188 days since the last measurable rainfall, Lindsey said.
The National Weather Service is predicting rainfall amounts similar to Lindsey — 0.75 to 1.5 inches — with a slight chance of thunderstorms. The agency forecast three or four hours of steady rain overnight followed by showers this morning as the front moved east.
The storm was also predicted to bring the first significant snowfall of the season to the Sierra Nevada above 5,000 feet.
The agency warns of slick roads from the storm. Roads have six months’ worth of oil and grease built up on them, so they could be particularly slippery.
Shortly after the rain began to fall, the CHP responded to an injury traffic accident at the top of the Cuesta Grade at 5:51 p.m.
A large truck, possibly a trash truck, had crashed, rolled over and was blocking all the northbound lanes. Another vehicle was also involved, according to the CHP San Luis Obispo office.
The accident caused rush-hour traffic to back up on the Cuesta Grade. As of 9 p.m., traffic was still backed up, but the CHP reported the road was clear as of 10:30 p.m.
In Arroyo Grande, the storm knocked out power to 5,400 people, including the high school, where a game between Atascadero and Arroyo Grande was about to begin. The game was postponed to 1 p.m. today.
The outage was caused by storm damage to power lines and occurred at 6:48 p.m. No estimate of when power would be restored was available Friday night.
Lindsey said he remains confident that this winter will see normal to higher-than-normal rainfall levels. This is based on the fact that it is an El Niño year, and the area has had three straight years of below-average rainfall.
“Whenever we have an El Niño, whether it is a weak or strong one, we’ve always gotten normal or above-average rainfall,” Lindsey said. “Historical records indicate that we have not had four years in a row of below-average rainfall.”
Dry and sunny weather is predicted to return to the Central Coast next week. High temperatures are expected to reach the low 80s in San Luis Obispo by the weekend.