Wind whips SLO County; flash flood watch issued for burn areas

Gale-force winds whip up sand, heavy surf in Morro Bay

Southerly gale-force winds with gusts from 32 to 46 mph hit the Central Coast on Sunday, January 8, 2017. Here are some windy scenes from Morro Bay.
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Southerly gale-force winds with gusts from 32 to 46 mph hit the Central Coast on Sunday, January 8, 2017. Here are some windy scenes from Morro Bay.

Compared with the soaking the Central Coast received Saturday, Sunday was much calmer, with cloudy, blustery conditions for most of the day.

But that dry weather was short-lived, with heavy rains starting by 7 p.m. and forecast to last through early Monday morning, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey.

Highway 1 closed between Ragged Point and Lucia in Monterey County about 4:30 p.m. because of a rock- and mudslide, according to the California Highway Patrol. The same stretch of the highway had just reopened Sunday morning after a mudslide forced it to close Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon, The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for recent burn areas in San Luis Obispo County, especially the area affected by the Chimney Fire. The watch went into effect at 4 p.m.

A flash flood watch means that conditions that lead to flash flooding could develop. The agency also forecast that the county could receive more than a half-inch of rain per hour Sunday night, with mudslides possible around the Chimney Fire burn area.

“It just looks like rain, rain, all through the week,” Lindsey said. He said the area could receive anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain Sunday night through Monday morning.

The Central Coast will get a short break from the rain Tuesday morning and afternoon before more gale-force winds and rain come back Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, Lindsey said. There will be more rain Thursday, but Santa Lucia winds blowing through the area mean that next weekend will be mostly dry.

Lindsey said wind speeds along the coast were picking up, and he said PG&E is anticipating power outages and trees falling. Winds on Sunday hovered from 32 to 46 mph.

The rain’s effects were felt throughout San Luis Obispo County on Saturday.

It just looks like rain, rain, all through the week.

PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey

Highway 41 between Atascadero and Morro Bay remained closed Sunday after a mudslide Friday night, according to Caltrans. Highway 41 was expected to remain closed “indefinitely,” while crews worked to remove debris from the 250-foot hillside that shut down the road, according to Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones.

The storms also knocked out power to thousands of county residents Saturday. More than 2,400 people in the Baywood Park and Los Osos area and 400 people in Atascadero lost power, with power being restored by Saturday evening.

Some county creeks and streams swelled or overflowed during Saturday’s deluge.

A rolling San Luis Obispo Creek was noticeably full, and Arroyo Grande Creek spilled onto the beach at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, making recreational travel difficult for visiting campers.

In Cambria, an overflowing Santa Rosa Creek covered a large stretch of Moonstone Beach, as high winds created large, crashing waves.

Forecasters have said this weekend’s storm could be the biggest to hit drought-stricken California in 10 years, the Associated Press reported.

Arroyo Grande Creek breaches the beach, making it tricky for vehicles to cross to the camping area of Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area on Saturday, January 7, 2017.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

Tribune staff members Mark Powell, Janet Lavelle, Melissa Blanton and Laura Dickinson contributed to this report.

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