Weather

Don't panic, but a funnel cloud formed over SLO this week

A funnel cloud is spotted forming in the sky near El Chorro County Park in San Luis Obispo. The cloud soon cleared.
A funnel cloud is spotted forming in the sky near El Chorro County Park in San Luis Obispo. The cloud soon cleared. San Luis Obispo County Parks and Recreation Department

Somebody might want to tell that funnel cloud that it's not in Kansas anymore.

A city of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation employee snapped a shot of a forming funnel cloud at 11 a.m. Wednesday from the baseball fields at El Chorro Regional Park.

The same funnel cloud was spotted shortly before over Los Osos.

PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said as far as he knows, it didn't make it to the ground. If it had, it would have become a tornado.

Lindsey said funnel clouds usually form in association with thunderstorms, but that didn't happen in this case, which makes it even rarer than normal.

Luckily for residents and wicked witches alike, the funnel cloud quickly cleared, but the city said in a tweet that it is expecting "more weather on the way," resulting in the closure of all city-owned fields and the possible closure of trails and cancellation of events.

San Luis Obispo County has recorded between a tenth of an inch and 3 inches of rain since this week's rainstorm first began on the Central Coast with Rocky Butte, the county's rainiest spot, tallying the highest total.

While the rainfall was less punishing than expected — a flash flood warning for SLO County was canceled and evacuated southern Santa Barbara County residents have been allowed to return home — the rain has still managed to wreak some havoc: A landslide briefly closed a section of Highway 1 in Big Sur.

Lindsey said showers and winds, including gale-force winds up to 38 mph, will continue through Wednesday before tapering off Thursday. The rugged weather is expected to resume Friday, bringing rain and "moderate to fresh" winds, Lindsey said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Los Angeles reported that radar data at 11:30 a.m. "had a stronger cell north of El Chorro Park at that time."

Reporter Gabby Ferreira contributed to this story.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
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