The Cambrian

Trees fall, soaked earth gives way in latest North Coast storm

Part of a hillside along Pineknolls Drive in Cambria gave way around midday Friday, undercutting an exterior stairway and cutting off a sewer line. The residents were told to evacuate.
Part of a hillside along Pineknolls Drive in Cambria gave way around midday Friday, undercutting an exterior stairway and cutting off a sewer line. The residents were told to evacuate.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 17

It’s becoming a predictable pattern this winter, although it’s no less troubling each time it happens: A large storm hits the North Coast, and trees come crashing down onto roadways.

Friday’s big blast of wet weather brought more of the same, and it’s no wonder: As of 2 p.m. Friday, 24-hour rain totals showed 2.64 inches for Cambria, 3.31 inches for Rocky Butte and 1.48 inches for Morro Bay, where falling trees crushed cars at the high school and about 3,900 people lost power.

In Cambria, a large tree fell across Burton Drive west of Highway 1 on Friday morning amid steady rain that had been falling since before daybreak, accompanied by some gusts of wind. Around noon, a second section of Burton Drive, between Village Lane and Eton Road, was closed off, with reports of another tree down.

As the day wore on, more fallen trees, mud and flooding blocked more roads:

▪  A line of red tape blocked access to Londonderry Lane at Ardath because of a fallen tree.

▪  Fire Department pesonnel were removing a tree that had fallen across Weymouth Street near Charing Lane about 2 p.m.

▪  Spencer Street between Ardath and Pickwick was passable, although a fallen tree had blocked part of the roadway and — all of a driveway —


▪  Gleason Street at the south end of town, between Green Street and London Lane, was blocked off because of flooding.

Meanwhile, Scott Wright reported that he was being told to evacuate his home on Pineknolls Drive.

“The hillside in front of our house where the stairs go up just slid,” he said about 12:30 p.m. Friday. “It cut off the sewer lines to our house and our landlord’s house, so they’re going to have to cut off our electricity, the Fire Department said.”

Wright’s home, built in 1977, is on a steep hill overlooking Main Street.

He said the house itself didn’t appear to be in danger: “The foundation’s solid, but I guess we’ll see. There’s a lot of rain coming yet.”

Across the street from Wright’s house on Pineknolls, a smaller slide had eaten into a hill beneath a second house, depositing mud at the roadside. The sopping-wet hillside on Main Street across from the Chevron Station, just west of Burton, was riddled with miniature waterfalls. A small piece of the hillside came down onto the shoulder of the roadway late in the morning, but did not block traffic.

Cambrian gardening columnist Lee Oliphant said on Facebook that an oak tree on her property fell, crushing a 1,600-gallon water tank.

Things were worse farther north.

Highway 1 remained closed at midday Friday from Ragged Point to Pfeiffer Canyon in Monterey County, one mile south of Big Sur, according to the Caltrans website. The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge has been a cause for concern, with shifting ground beneath the bridge having caused fractures in one of its support columns.

Caltrans reported “further deterioration due to slide movement and fractures on (a) bridge column” meant the bridge was completely closed “to everyone (pedestrians, vehicles and emergency services)” as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Friday morning, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey predicted rainfall amounts of 2.25 to 3.5 inches into Saturday morning, with more likely in the coastal mountains. Lindsey said the low-pressure systems entering the state had “tapped into a large plume of subtropical moisture that extends from Hawaiian islands, creating an ‘atmospheric river’ condition” with winds of 32 to 46 mph, gusting to 60 mph along the coastline.

California State Parks reported that all its sites in San Luis Obispo County were closed as of early afternoon, including Cambria State Marine Park, Cayucos State Beach, Harmony Headlands State Park, Hearst San Simeon State Park.

Multiple trees fell on Corbett Canyon Road on Friday, February 17, 2017, closing the roadway. Trees also downed power lines on Carpenter Canyon Road near Cold Canyon landfill, south of San Luis Obispo. Oceano Dunes closed for the weekend because o

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