Rain drenches narrow stretch of SLO County

A high-elevation band of moisture passed over central San Luis Obispo County on Wednesday and Thursday, dropping a surprising amount of rain over a narrow area.

The storm came from the northeast, spinning in counter-clockwise direction, said local forecaster John Lindsey. Normally, storms coming from the northeasterly direction drop most of their moisture as they pass over the Santa Lucia Mountains and little rain falls on coastal areas.

However, a narrow, high-elevation plume of moisture passed over the mountains with most of its precipitation intact. That plume stalled several times as it moved out to sea, Lindsey said.

The result was a narrow band of rain stretching from Pozo over San Luis Obispo to the Morro Bay-Los Osos area. San Luis Obispo received more than a half an inch of rain and Los Osos nearly an inch while areas north of Cayucos and south into Santa Barbara County received hardly any.

“This was very unusual,” Lindsey said. “I’ve seen systems come around from the northeast like this, but I’ve never seen one produce this much rain in one relatively small geographic area.”

Original forecasts called for the storm to brush past the area, dropping only trace amounts of rain. The rain broke a dry spell in San Luis Obispo County that had lasted nearly six months.

Today is expected to be partly cloudy as the storm moves toward Southern California. Fair, dry and warmer weather is forecast Saturday through Thursday.

“In fact, temperatures should warm into the high 70s throughout San Luis Obispo County on Sunday and the 80s on Monday through Wednesday and perhaps through the end of the week,” Lindsey said.

Storm rainfall totals

  • Arroyo Grande: 0.50"
  • Atascadero, Heilmann Regional Park: 0.55"
  • Atop Prefumo Canyon Road: 0.99"
  • Baywood Park: 0.98"
  • Camp San Luis: 0.79"
  • Cambria: 0.12"
  • Condor Lookout, Los Padres National Forest: 0.53"
  • Diablo Canyon: 0.72"
  • Hog Canyon near Paso Robles: 0.04"
  • Islay Hill, San Luis Obispo: 0.22"
  • Morro Bay: 0.66"
  • Nipomo: 0.35"
  • Oceano: 0.20"
  • 41 West & Toro Creek: 0.60"
  • Paso Robles Airport: 0.03"
  • PG&E Energy Education Center: 0.71"
  • Rocky Butte: 0.24"
  • Santa Margarita Fire Department: 1.05"
  • Santa Maria Public Airport: Trace
  • San Luis Obispo County Airport: 0.68"
  • San Simeon: 0.28"
  • Shandon, CDF Yard: 0.59"
  • SLOWeather.com: 0.87"
  • Templeton: 0.04"
  • Vandenberg AFB: 0.01"