Severe thunderstorm, flash flood warnings issued for Central Coast

How to identify symptoms of a heat stroke

Nichole Fort, Emergency Room nurse at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo discusses how to identify symptoms of heat stroke and what action to take.
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Nichole Fort, Emergency Room nurse at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo discusses how to identify symptoms of heat stroke and what action to take.

Update, 7 p.m. Sunday

A Weather Service alert just before 7 p.m. extended a significant weather advisory to 8 p.m., warning of a “line of strong thunderstorms extending from Blackewell’s Corner in Kern County to near Cuyama.”

The storms, it said, were moving west at 20 mph, bringing with them the possibility of “very heavy downpours, dangerous lightning, nickel sized hail and wind gusts of 50 to 55 mph.

Affected locations included Cuyama, Orcutt, Sisquoc, Black Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Highway 166 between Twitchell Dam and the Cuyama Valley, Lopez Lake and Shandon.


Heat continues to scorch the Central Coast, but relief — and rain — is in sight.

On Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for southeastern San Luis Obispo County after a severe thunderstorm hit 10 miles west of Cuyama just before 3:40 p.m., the National Weather Service said. The agency reported that the storm came barreling through with 60 mph wind gusts and quarter-sized hail.

As a band of thunderstorms moved through the area, the Weather Service also issued a flash-flood warning for northwestern Santa Barbara County and southeastern San Luis Obispo County, including the Alamo Fire burn area. . A band of heavy showers and thunderstorms moving through those areas had the potential to produce up to one inch per hour and cause flash flooding, the agency said late Sunday afternoon.

The agency noted in its flash flood warning that the Alamo Fire burn area is “of particular concern.”

“There will likely be mud and debris flows in addition to flash flooding,” the National Weather Service said.

“A flash flood warning for a recent burn area means that flooding and debris flows are imminent or occurring,” it said, and residents in the burn area were advised to take immediate action to protect life and property.

The unstable weather followed on the heels of a high-pressure ridge of air that’s been causing record-shattering temperatures along the coast, where Paso Robles scorched at 115 on Saturday while San Luis Obispo hit 114. Paso didn’t quite reach its predicted high of 106 on Sunday, settling in at 102, while San Luis Obispo was right behind at 101.

But the high pressure was forecast to start weakening Monday, paving the way for cooler temperatures, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey, with Paso forecast to have a high of 89 degrees and the coastal valleys to stay at about 87 degrees.

Rain was predicted to hit the Central Coast from Sunday evening into Tuesday morning, Lindsey said, bringing with it a chance of thunderstorms as well. Total rain amounts are expected to be about a third of an inch.

The weather is expected to be back to normal by Wednesday, Lindsey said.

Lindsey said that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, more than 600 people die from complications related to extreme heat each year in the United States — more than tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, lightning and all other weather events combined.

Record-breaking temperatures in San Luis Obispo County cause people to escape the heat at Avila Beach on Saturday, September 2, 2017.

Lindsey offers the following tips to help keep you and your family safe in hot weather.

▪ Check on elderly friends and neighbors.

▪ Go to a cool place: Consider going to an air-conditioned mall, library or other public place that will be cool. Go to a neighbor’s or friend’s house that has air conditioning. Visit your local cooling center, or call 1-877-474-3266 for more information.

▪ Stay in the shade: Direct sunlight can speed up the effect the heat has on your body. Do outdoor activities in the morning or evening hours to avoid the afternoon heat.

▪ Stay hydrated: Keep drinking plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

▪ Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. If you are outside, don’t forget to wear a hat or carry an umbrella to protect your head and neck.

▪ Wear sunscreen: Protect your skin and reduce the risk of sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself.

▪ Take showers: A cool shower or bath is a great way to stay cool and much more effective than using an electric fan.

▪ Limit physical activity: Take breaks during the day. Take a break if you are feeling dizzy, your heart is pounding or breathing becomes difficult.

▪ Never leave children or pets inside a vehicle.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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