End of La Niña could bring rain to SLO County later this month

Offshore winds and a big swell created some waves for surfers Tuesday in Morro Bay.
Offshore winds and a big swell created some waves for surfers Tuesday in Morro Bay. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The sprinkling of rain that came Tuesday did little to alleviate San Luis Obispo County’s dry conditions, but a change in the long-term weather pattern may bring some relief.

A more normal wet winter weather pattern should begin to develop later this month as a persistent La Niña breaks down, said John Lindsey, PG&E community relations specialist.

The La Niña phenomenon is characterized by lower surface temperatures in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This often drives the Pacific storm track to the north, resulting in drought conditions in the southern part of the country.

With the La Niña starting to end, “the storm track should shift southward and we could get more storms over California,” said Lindsey, who has more than 20 years of forecasting experience on the Central Coast.

Unfortunately, the return of conditions that typically produce wetter weather would come at the tail end of the winter rainy season in March and April, when precipitation levels normally begin to fall off.

“I don’t know if this will be enough to get us back to normal rainfall amount,” Lindsey said. “Any rain will be very welcome.”

Seasonal rainfall totals at many locations in the county are less than half of normal.

Today will mark a return to the dry, sunny weather that has characterized this winter. Building high pressure will lead to temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s in San Luis Obispo on Thursday and Friday before cooling occurs this weekend. No rain is in the forecast for the next week.

Rainfall totals for Tuesday's storm

Rainfall totals as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, provided by John Lindsey with PG&E:

Location Rainfall
Arroyo Grande 0.08”
Atascadero 0.04”
Baywood Park 0.09”
Cambria 0.05”
Camp San Luis 0.04”
Condor Lookout, Los Padres National Forest 0.15”
Diablo Canyon 0.08”
Nipomo 0.02”
Morro Bay 0.02”
Paso Robles Airport 0.07”
Piedras Blancas 0.10”
Pismo Beach 0.06”
Santa Margarita 0.09”
San Simeon 0.08”
SLO County Airport 0.11”
Templeton 0.08”