High winds, thunderstorms and big surf expected on the Central Coast

Central Coast residents should brace for some “interesting weather” this weekend with rain and high winds expected to sweep across much of the region, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said Friday.

In some areas, instability caused by high- and low-pressure fronts colliding could bring thunderstorms.

Residents can expect “batten down the hatches kind of wind” and rain beginning Saturday, particularly along the coastline, with winds of 32 to 46 mph and gusts up to 60 mph by afternoon. Those winds could lose strength farther inland, but pick up again at higher elevations such as the Cuesta Grade.

“Whenever you get a (weather) system like this during the month of May, you just never know. It can produce pretty unsettled weather,” Lindsey said.

High winds and rain are expected to continue into Sunday before tapering off Monday morning.

As a result of the high winds, the National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory from Friday evening until 8 p.m. Sunday. Gale force winds will generate 7- to 9-foot swells beginning Friday night, rising to 11 to 13 feet Saturday and 12 to 14 feet Sunday.

Lindsey said offshore buoys could record swells of up to 20 feet this weekend.

There’s precedent for extreme weather events in May, Lindsey said, as a result of the unusual pressure systems in place.

On May 6, 1998, a weak tornado touched down near Cal Poly campus, toppling trees and doing other property damage.

While he said he wasn’t predicting a tornado this weekend, Lindsey said, “a pattern like this has produced some pretty interesting weather in the past.”

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler