Weather

Rain set to pound Central Coast through the weekend

A California Conservation Corps crew from the San Luis Obispo Los Padres Center works on filling 14,000 sand bags to help protect a levee along the bank of the Arroyo Grande Creek in Oceano.
A California Conservation Corps crew from the San Luis Obispo Los Padres Center works on filling 14,000 sand bags to help protect a levee along the bank of the Arroyo Grande Creek in Oceano. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

While Friday’s sunny skies provided a welcome break from the gloomy week, rain is set to pummel the Central Coast through the weekend.

San Luis Obispo County is forecast to receive moderate to heavy rains all day Saturday and through the night, with a brief respite during the day Sunday before heavy rain resumes Sunday night through Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency warned that the downpours could cause flooded roads, rock slides, mudslides, downed trees and flash flooding. PG&E has urged residents to be prepared for power outages.

Between 2.5 and 5.5 inches of rain could soak the county from Saturday morning through Monday, with gale-force southerly winds at times, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said.

In preparation, crews with the California Conservation Corps, Cal Fire and Cuesta Conservation Camp No. 24 have filled sandbags and stacked them on the Arroyo Grande Creek levee to fortify it during flooding and to keep floodwaters from going toward area homes. Aaron McBride, a California Conservation Corps crew supervisor, said crews hoped to fill 14,000 sandbags.

Dave Flynn, deputy director of the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Works, said county crews have a routine storm preparation plan in place, but they are particularly focused on the Arroyo Grande Creek area.

“We need to be mindful of the potential for flooding there, as well as the adjoining Meadow Creek area,” he said, adding that over the weekend, crews will patrol about 8 miles of the creek’s levees, watching for flooding and breaches.

“This weather pattern has been really nontraditional in the sense that certain areas are getting a lot of water and other areas are not,” Flynn said. “We need to be prepared for what particular area may get hit.”

Rains so far this winter have brought some relief after several years of drought. The season-to-date rainfall (from July 2016 through Friday) has reached about half of the normal season total.

At Rocky Butte, the total as of Thursday was 24.7 inches, well on its way to the normal annual total of 39 inches. Cal Poly has reported 11.91 inches, more than half of the normal seasonal total of 22.4 inches. Paso Robles, which usually receives 14.9 inches during the rain season, has recorded 5.73 inches so far.

And Diablo Canyon, which received the most rain it’s seen in a 24-hour period in about seven years, has recorded 12.68 inches of its normal season total of 22 inches.

The steady rain this week also has made a small but favorable impact on area reservoirs. Between Wednesday and Thursday, Lake Nacimiento gained more than 1.5 billion gallons of water, going from 28 percent of capacity to 30 percent. Lopez Lake gained more than 93 million gallons, going from 22.6 percent of capacity to 22.9 percent.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858

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