Rain soaks the North Coast and closes Highway 1
The much-needed rain that fell in San Luis Obispo County on Wednesday caused rock slides, small mudslides and road closures, with more rain forecast over the next few weeks.
The wet weather had already caused rock slides on Highway 1 north of Ragged Point on Tuesday night. A stretch of about 42 miles of the road, from that area to just south of Big Sur, was closed overnight and will remain closed Wednesday night, according to Caltrans. The agency will reassess conditions Thursday morning but has no estimate yet of when the road will reopen.
At 3 p.m. Wednesday, the California Highway Patrol’s incident page reported 12 incidents, down from 18 incidents at 2:18 p.m. In the Oceano area, Highway 1 between 4th Street and Paso Robles Street was closed because of flooding, according to the CHP’s website.
Elsewhere along Highway 1, small mudslides blocked the northbound bike lane but didn’t stop motor vehicle traffic north of Cayucos, near Harmony Headlands State Park.
The rain has also affected recovery efforts of a car that went over the side of Highway 1 just south of Ragged Point.
Hearst Castle remained open Wednesday morning, with tours in “inclement weather” mode, according to Dan Falat, superintendent of the State Park district that includes the Castle. Throughout the stormy period, he and his staff will constantly assess the conditions, especially with regard to public safety.
Flooding also became a concern along the North Coast, where some of the heaviest rainfall was recorded. San Simeon Creek was “running heavy” and had begun to encroach on the Cambria Community Services District well field, according to Jerry Gruber, the district’s general manager. He added the district would be running two wells off Santa Rosa Creek, which he said were “more than capable” of meeting the community’s water needs. Neither of those wells was affected by flooding as of Wednesday afternoon, Gruber said.
Roads throughout South County were shut down Wednesday, as rain pounded the region, flooding streets and neighborhoods.
In Pismo Beach, the North Beach campground was closed because of high tide, with water pooling across much of the campground.
In Grover Beach, there was temporary flooding on Grand Avenue, with crews expected to close a lane between 9th and 6th streets. There was also a full closure of El Camino Real between 12th Street and the eastbound on-ramp near Oxford Suites.
Areas prone to flooding along Highway 1 in both Grover Beach and Oceano also were closed Wednesday, including South 4th Street between Highland Way and Highway 1, Front Street north of Newport Avenue, and Highway 1 between 4th Street and Paso Robles Street. The Baden Avenue and South 13th Street intersection and Oak Park Boulevard and Grand Avenue intersections also were flooded.
Owens and Mono courts, off Nacimiento Avenue in Grover Beach, also were flooded nearly inaccessible, the Grover Beach Police Department said.
To the north, county Public Works shut down San Luis Bay Drive from Monte Road to Highway 101.
Police urged people to avoid the flooded areas.
The rain started up in the north part of the county Tuesday night, with Rocky Butte reporting 7.64 inches of rain by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the county Department of Public Works’ website.
Rainfall totals were lower farther south: San Luis Obispo reported 2.2 inches, Los Osos had 2.02 inches and Arroyo Grande received 2.35 inches by that time. In the North County, Santa Margarita reported 2 inches while Paso Robles received 0.64 inches. Through the weekend, more than 10 inches of rain could fall in the Santa Lucia Mountains, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said.
The rain is expected to taper off by Thursday afternoon, with Friday providing a break in the weather before the storms start back up Saturday. No power outages have been reported, according to PG&E’s outage map.
The stormy weather is caused by a stream of air, called the Pacific jet stream, that’s moving southward over the coast. The jet stream is interacting with a cold front that’s also moving south from Northern California, Lindsey said. The storms are forecast to continue, with a few interruptions, until Jan. 20, he said.
“This could be the most rain we’ve seen since 2010,” Lindsey said, adding that the wet weather is an important step toward putting a dent in the California drought.
“It’s definitely great news for everybody,” he said. Lindsey cautioned that with the influx of rain, mudslides and flooding could be an issue, and he urged people to be prepared.
Tribune reporter Kaytlyn Leslie contributed to this story.