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More storms on the way to San Luis Obispo County

A broken tree branch brought down power lines on S. Mason Street in Arroyo Grande. rain. photo Jayson Mellom 1-18-10
A broken tree branch brought down power lines on S. Mason Street in Arroyo Grande. rain. photo Jayson Mellom 1-18-10 The Tribune

After up to 11⁄2 inches of rain soaked much of the Central Coast on Monday, another storm is expected to hit the region today before an even stronger system hits Wednesday.

Monday’s downpour and high winds contributed to power outages that affected at least 12,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers through much of the day all over San Luis Obispo County.

Felled trees and utility poles, auto accidents and other weather-related troubles made driving tricky in the region.

The second, and relatively weaker, system in this week’s series of storms is expected to reach the Central Coast late this morning, with southerly winds between 32 and 46 mph, according to John Lindsey, a communications specialist with PG&E and longtime local forecaster.

Expect rain today to total 1 to 2 inches in low elevations, and 2 to 4 inches in higher elevations, he said.

But on Wednesday, the third, and strongest, of the storms is expected to cross the Central Coast, Lindsey said.

On top of heavy rain, that system could generate winds of 39 to 54 mph, with gusts nearly 65 mph, he said.

Expect another 2 to 3 inches of rain in the lower elevations, and as much as 3 to 6 inches of rain in higher areas, Lindsey said.

He also warned that with the ground becoming saturated, localized flooding may develop.

A coastal-flood watch and high-surf advisory was expected to remain in effect today, according to the National Weather Service.

At San Simeon, Hearst Castle closed for public tours because high wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph ripped a few roofing tiles off the landmark’s main building — La Casa Grande.

“That’s well beyond what we can handle, as far as public safety is concerned,” Castle spokesman Dan Eller said, “especially with roof tiles coming off at those speeds.”

Eller said they expect to reopen the Castle today.

About 11:30 a.m. on the Nipomo Mesa, a eucalyptus tree estimated between 36 and 48 inches in diameter was reported to have fallen onto Callender Road, taking power lines down with it.

Along Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero near Toro Creek Road, a number of trees caught fire about noon after one of them fell onto power lines. That stretch was shut down until about 4:45 p.m., according to the CHP.

And on Highway 101 just south of Highway 58, a car overturned just before 11 a.m., but its driver was not injured, according to the CHP.

Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones said that as of Monday night, all state roads along the Central Coast except for a part of Highway 166 in Santa Maria — between Bonita School Road and Simas Road — were open again.

On Sunday, a section of Highway 1 through Oceano — an area prone to perennial flooding — was closed because of rising waters.

Lindsey said that dry weather is expected Saturday and Sunday, then more rain is expected to arrive on Monday.

Tribune staff writers Kathe Tanner and Nick Wilson contributed to this report.

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