A wet start to winter, and another storm on the way

San Luis Obispo County welcomes the first day of winter today in the middle of a wet, nearly weeklong series of storms.

A slow-moving storm parked itself over the Central Coast last weekend and dumped as much as 10 inches of rain in some parts of the county; many areas got from 6 to 8 inches. More rainfall is on the way.

The stormy weather was set to spoil the chance for many Central Coast residents to view an unusual total lunar eclipse, which occurred between 11:41 p.m. Monday and 12:53 a.m. today. It was the first time in more than 350 years that a total lunar eclipse has occurred on the winter solstice.

The National Weather Service says another storm front is expected to move across the area today and linger into Wednesday morning, bringing with it an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain and more localized flooding and hazardous driving conditions.

“What a remarkable system,” said local forecaster John Lindsey of the weekend storm, noting that Saturday and Sunday was the wettest two-day period locally in the past 15 years.

The storm was unusual for several reasons, said Lindsey, a community relations specialist with PG&E. Most importantly, it lacked the strong winds and high surf that normally accompany winter storms. As a result, there were few power outages caused by toppled trees.

“It’s dead calm today,” Lindsey said Monday. “We’ve been really lucky in that we haven’t had any real strong southerly winds.”

However, that is liable to change with the new storm. Sustained winds of 25 to 38 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph, are expected tonight and through Wednesday morning.

These winds, coupled with saturated soil conditions, could significantly raise the threat of power outages, downed power lines and buildings damaged by falling trees.

Another unusual aspect of this weather pattern is that it comes during a La Niña weather pattern, which typically produces drier-than-normal conditions. A series of small storms this fall kept rainfall totals at or near seasonal averages, and this weekend’s storm pushed the totals to more than double their normal levels.

A break in the weather is expected Thursday and Friday with cool, clear conditions. A milder storm is expected to move through the Central Coast on Christmas Day, followed by a period of dry weather early next week.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.

Rainfall totals in inches

Tally since storm began Friday, as of noon Monday.Compiled by local forecaster John Lindsey.

Arroyo Grande Creek, near the intersection of Huasna Road and East Branch Street 6.58

Atascadero 6.02

Baywood Park 4.26

Cambria 5.98

Camp San Luis Obispo 6.98

Cayucos 6.96

Cottontail Creek near Cayucos 9.35

Davis Peak (between Montañade Oro and Avila Beach) 8.32

Diablo Canyon 6.93

Hi Mountain Condor Lookout,Los Padres National Forest (between Pozo and Lopez Lake) 9.94

Highway 41 West and Toro Creek 8.40

Hog Canyon near Paso Robles 3.85

Islay Hill, east of San Luis Obispo 5.81

Morro Bay 7.24

Nipomo 7.50

Oceano 6.34

PG&E Energy Education Center 10.14

Paso Robles Airport 1.05

Rocky Butte (between NacimientoLake and Cambria) 11.30

San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly 5.34

San Luis Obispo County Airport 7.89

Santa Margarita Fire Department 5.35

Shandon 3.74

Templeton 4.95