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Big storm on the way: Thunder, hail and 55-mph winds could hit SLO County

Downtown SLO hit with rain prior to predicted major storm

Rain touched down in downtown San Luis Obispo on Thursday, March 1, 2018, prior to a heavy storm that's predicted to hit the Central Coast.
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Rain touched down in downtown San Luis Obispo on Thursday, March 1, 2018, prior to a heavy storm that's predicted to hit the Central Coast.

Rain touched down in San Luis Obispo County on Thursday morning, but heavier amounts are yet to come.

As of noon Thursday, Rocky Butte recorded 2.5 inches of rain, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey. By 1 p.m., Rocky Butte was at 2.67 inches, Cambria had reached 0.67 inches, and San Luis Obispo recorded 0.06 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

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An intense cold front is moving southeastward from Northern California through the Central Coast and was expected to pass through San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thursday night, Lindsey said.

Moderate to heavy rain was expected Thursday night, with a chance of thunderstorms with hail, Lindsey said. The front is also expected to create gale-force winds ranging in speed from 32 to 46 mph, with gusts up to 55 mph.

In preparation for the storm, organizers of the Downtown SLO Farmers Market announced Wednesday that they were canceling the Thursday night market.

Farther south, in Santa Barbara County, officials have announced mandatory evacuations for communities below the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fire burn areas.

See a 19-second timelapse of driving from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo on Highway 1 during winter rain, on Feb. 26, 2018.

The Santa Barbara Division of the California Highway Patrol announced Thursday that Highway 101 may close early Friday morning, if the CHP deems the closure necessary due to the storm.

This activity will turn into showers Friday into Saturday morning, Lindsey said.

Total rainfall amounts are forecast to range between 1.25 and 2.50 inches, with higher amounts in the Santa Lucia mountains.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

Yosemite National Park, the Sierra foothills and the Kern County mountains received a dusting of snow Thursday, the National Weather Service reported. Temperatures in Yosemite were expected to fall to around 28 degrees by 4p.m, according to the Na

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