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Power outages sweep SLO County, tree falls on homes as storm arrives

See the damage after a 50-foot tree fell on Atascadero homes

A 50-foot pine tree fell into two multi-unit apartment buildings in Atascadero, California, on Monday after high winds and rain hit the area. Some residents were also left without power for a time.
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A 50-foot pine tree fell into two multi-unit apartment buildings in Atascadero, California, on Monday after high winds and rain hit the area. Some residents were also left without power for a time.

Winds howled through San Luis Obispo County on Wednesday as thousands lost power, a tree fell onto a couple of apartment buildings and minor crashes occurred during the first of two storm systems.

Nearly 2,000 PG&E customers in San Luis Obispo County lost power Wednesday morning, including 1,478 customers in the Arroyo Grande area east of Highway 227, 342 customers east of Highway 101 in the Atascadero area and 20 people west of Atascadero and south of Highway 41 West, according to PG&E’s outage map.

By 2 p.m., power had been restored to those customers, PG&E said.

Another 43 people lost power southeast of Paso Robles and north of Linne Road at about noon, PG&E said. Power was still out in the area as of 3:20 p.m.

As of 2:50 p.m., School Road between Branch Mill Road and Huasna Road in Arroyo Grande was closed due to downed power lines, according to the San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department.

Winds were blowing stronger Wednesday than forecast. On Tuesday afternoon, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said wind gusts of up to 55 mph were expected.

At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, winds had increased to 40 mph and gusts were recorded at 58 mph at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, according to a tweet from Lindsey.

By 11:30 a.m., Lindsey said wind gusts of up to 59 mph were recorded at Diablo Canyon.

“It’s still very windy and it’s supposed to stay windy all the way through Thursday afternoon ,” Lindsey said.

The Atascadero Fire Department cautioned people to be aware of downed trees due to the rain and heavy winds after a 50-foot pine tree fell on two single-story, multi-family residences in the 8700 block of Amapoa Avenue.

All four units in the buildings were impacted by the tree, and eight people were displaced, the department said in a news release.

The department said the incident happened at about 7:15 a.m., and all occupants were able to leave safely. No one was injured.

The fallen tree caused about $400,000 in property damage, including a broken water line, the department said.

“Be aware and on the lookout for downed trees and power lines,” the Fire Department said in a tweet about the incident. “This storm is not only bringing rain, but heavy and sustained winds that stress trees in the already-saturated soil.”

The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the Central Coast that will remain in effect until 3 p.m. Thursday.

“Winds this strong may down trees and power lines, causing property damage or power outages,” the agency said.

Despite the wind, rainfall amounts stayed light, with most places receiving a quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain, according to Lindsey.

By early Wednesday afternoon, Rocky Butte received an inch of rain, Cambria recorded a half-inch of rain, Cal Poly reported a third of an inch and Atascadero saw 0.04 inches, Lindsey said.

Rainfall amounts are expected to be higher Thursday, with total rainfall amounts forecast to rain between 1 inch and 2.25 inches throughout the county, according to Lindsey.

Rain is forecast to continue Thursday night into Friday, Lindsey said.

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Gabby Ferreira is a breaking news and general assignment reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. A native of Houston, Texas, she was a reporter in Tucson, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Palm Springs, California, before moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2016.


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