SLO County cleans up after storm, prepares for more wet weather

San Luis Obispo County on Monday got a brief respite from the rain after receiving a thorough soaking over the weekend, giving residents just enough time to begin cleanup efforts ahead of more wet weather to come.

Most areas of the county received 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain between Sunday and Monday, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said. Rocky Butte got the most precipitation with 6 inches, while Humbug Vineyards in Creston got the least with a little more than a tenth of an inch.

Sunday night’s rain fell in heavy downpours. Arroyo Grande Creek rose 3 feet in four hours Sunday night, the National Weather Service said.

Although Monday remained mostly dry, Lindsey predicted the rain would return Tuesday, yielding another 1 to 3 inches.

Road closures

Sunday night’s storm caused additional flooding and mudslides, prompting continued road closures. Highway 41 between Atascadero and Morro Bay will remain closed indefinitely because of a large mudslide that occurred Friday near Cerro Alto Road, according to Jim Shivers, a spokesman for Caltrans District 5.

Shivers said crews need good weather conditions so they can safely assess the pile of dirt and rock that’s blocking the roadway. Crews have requested special equipment from Los Angeles to help remove the debris, but the rain predicted for this week could further hamper cleanup efforts, he said.

“We don’t want to have our staff being involved in an avalanche of rocks and mud,” Shivers said.

Mud- and rockslides also continued to cause closures on Highway 1 from Ragged Point through Santa Lucia in Monterey County, according to the CHP.

At least five other roads in areas throughout San Luis Obispo County remain closed or hazardous because of flooding and mudslides, according to the CHP Traffic Incident Information page.

  • Branch Mill and Huasna roads near Arroyo Grande remain open after a mudslide, but drivers should use caution when traveling through the area.
  • Part of Santa Rosa Creek Road near McCall Ranch, about 5 miles east of Cambria, was swept away by floodwaters. Cracking and slumping asphalt caused an additional closure near Coast Union High School.
  • Avila Beach Drive at Ontario Road near Avila Beach remains closed because of flooding.
  • Old Oak Park Road is closed from Vetter Lane to Erhart Road near Arroyo Grande because of flooding.
  • North River Road just north of Experimental Station Road near Paso Robles remains closed.

Weather-related mishaps

Heavy rain caused unexpected problems for residents and drivers around the county.

Administrators at Coastal Christian School in Pismo Beach arrived Monday morning to find 6 to 8 inches of mud covering the campus’ blacktop, playground and play field, and blocking entrances to two modular classrooms, Principal Dave Rehnberg said.

“I thought, ‘It’s going to be a long day,’ ” he said.

Rehnberg said he wasn’t sure where the mud came from, but suspected it may have originated in the hills behind the school, located at 1005 N. Oak Park Blvd. This is the first time mud has taken over the school’s grounds in the three years it’s been at that location, he said.

Volunteers laid sandbags and began clearing the mud using heavy equipment Monday, but Rehnberg said it will likely take a while to completely clean up the mess.

Just south, at the Oceano Dunes, a driver and passenger traveling in a Ford Explorer attempted to cross the mouth of Arroyo Grande Creek and sunk into the mud, said Dena Bellman, an associate parks and recreation specialist for State Parks.

Lifeguards and heavy equipment operators helped pull the vehicle out of the mud, and no one was injured, Bellman said. State Parks rangers arrested the driver on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the passenger for an outstanding warrant, she said.

The creek area is not closed off, and other drivers traveled through the area without a problem, Bellman said.

“It’s flowing, but it’s passable,” she said.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

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