The Cambrian

Rain, wind and... snow? Mother Nature throws just about everything at Cambria

Watch snow falling on Highway 58 in San Luis Obispo County

Snow fell on Highway 58, west of Santa Margarita, near Red Hill Road in San Luis Obispo County on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
Up Next
Snow fell on Highway 58, west of Santa Margarita, near Red Hill Road in San Luis Obispo County on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

Band after band of rain, strong winds, some sunshine, lots of rainbows, fog, cold temperatures, power outages, downed trees, brief spates of hail and even a momentary squall that dropped so-called “graupel” at Hearst Castle — Mother Nature threw it all at the North Coast over the past couple of days.

John Lindsey, PG&E meteorologist and a columnist for The Tribune, said midday Tuesday, Feb. 5, that graupel may well have been what fell on the Castle.

Brace yourself: Lindsey said there’s apt to be more wintery weather in the area’s immediate future.

He defined the Central Coast’s forecast from Friday through Valentine’s Day as “cold and showery,” with a possible break on Monday and maybe Tuesday, Feb. 11 and 12.

“The upper-level winds are coming straight out of British Columbia… north to south. Usually, with a jet stream like that, you do get cold temperatures, but rarely heavy rain amounts,” he said.

Lindsey said he expects temperature ranges to be from the 30s to the 50s, with a few 60s possible in the mix. His precipitation prediction for the upcoming rainy days ranged from 0.25 inch to maybe 0.75 inch each day.

slo snow.JPG
Snow was spotted from the Paso Robles Municipal Airport on Tuesday morning. This photo was taken looking northeast toward Parkfield. Trisha Butcher


The gauge at Cambria’s wastewater treatment plant tallied 4.25 inches of rainfall between Jan. 30 and Feb. 4.

That brings the total so far in calendar year 2019 to 10.44 inches, or about what fell on the town in all of 2013, as reported by local weather tracker Mark Kramer in The Cambrian’s April 3, 2014, issue.

According to, Rocky Butte (northeast of San Simeon) has accumulated 30.69 inches of rain since July 1, 2018.

Highway 1

Caltrans continued to try to outguess Mother Nature by proactively closing slide-prone areas of Highway 1 (especially Mud Creek and Paul’s Slide areas, respectively 8.9 and 21.6 miles north of the San Luis Obispo/Monterey county line).

As the storms progressed, other areas were closed, such as from Ragged Point to Deetjen’s/Fuller’s and sections of Nacimiento Ferguson Road were also declared off limits.

Caltrans spokeswoman Susana Cruz said Tuesday that “geotech, maintenance design and maintenance crews assessed all road areas within the closure limits earlier today. Contractor and Caltrans crews are busy cleaning and clearing” heavy mud, big boulders, slide material and fallen trees from the roadway.

As of late afternoon Tuesday, the Mud Creek closure was to reopen at 4 p.m., but Paul’s Slide was to remain closed until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.

02-02-19 tree down 3 by barbara bronson gray.jpg
A tree fell on a house on Warren Road in Cambria at approximately 5:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Cambria Fire Captain Dan McCrain, who said the tree went through the living room roof. Barbara Bronson Gray Courtesy photo

The storms

During the storm siege, at least 19 fallen trees were reported to the Cambria Fire Department, with some landing on power lines and one crunching part of a Warren Road home’s roof and living room (that call came in at about 5:30 a.m. Friday).

But no injuries were reported, according to fire captains Emily Torlano and Dan McCrain, who were on duty during the storm siege, and Fire Chief William Hollingsworth said nobody reported any problems with flooding.

Two long, nearly concurrent power outages were endured by a total of about 400 customers in Cambria, starting between 8:35 and 8:45 p.m. Saturday evening into late Sunday. In one incident, PG&E crews had to replace a broken power pole, and in the other, a repaired line came down, according to John Lindsey’s stats.

Everybody was powered up again by 10:44 p.m., he said, although the electricity came back on at different times throughout Sunday.

There also was a brief electrical blip that affected 3,484 accounts at 8:31 p.m. Saturday, but for less than a minute, Lindsey said.

Getting through the long, windy, rainy night without electricity was one thing, as some people groused on social media. Missing most of the Super Bowl was something else entirely.

Even the fire department was operating on generator power for 22 hours, Torlano said.

02-02-19 susan oyler’s rainbow.jpg
A full rainbow was seen from Susan Oyler’s front deck on McCabe Drive, looking toward Rocky Butte. Susan Oyler Courtesy photo

Torlano said among the other downed trees through midday Monday were: Three on Cambria Pines Road; two each on Buckley Drive, Benson Avenue, Sandown Place, and Burton Drive; and one each on Berwick Drive, Newton Drive, Warwick Street and Randall Drive. County Public Works crews may also have dealt with additional downed trees that were reported to them directly and not through the fire department, Hollingsworth said.

Other crews, such as those from Spectrum, AT&T and other utilities, also were on emergency repair duty.

The farther north along the Big Sur Coast, the worse it got.

“Insane is the best was to describe the winds and rain last night,” Kate Novoa, longtime Big Sur resident, said on her Saturday blog

She was going home, but as conditions deteriorated, and she knew she shouldn’t drive any farther for safety reasons, she stopped her camping van in a pullout north of San Simeon.

About 4:30 a.m. Sunday, the storm hit with full fury. “I thought I was going to get blown over,” Novoa said. “Rain and wind were both so intense.”

Novoa said Dann Cianca of KION weather had reported winds of 91 mph on the Big Sur Coast.

The sandy creeks and riverbeds of northern San Luis Obispo County are beginning to fill with water. San Marcos Creek, Huer Huero Creek and the Salinas River are all showing steady flows of water.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune