Storm drenches SLO County, downs trees. Here’s a look at how much rain has fallen

A storm that pounded the Central Coast overnight Wednesday and throughout Thursday dropped more than 4 inches of rain in some parts of the county and averaged at least 2 inches throughout the city of San Luis Obispo by midday.

Around the county, high winds knocked down power lines, and a tree fell on cars in a Cuesta College parking lot.

The wet weather made for perilous driving on local roads and highways. The CHP responded to multiple collisions beginning in the overnight hours.

“We’re seeing a lot of solo vehicle spinouts and some crashes, due to the storm conditions,” said CHP spokesman Mike Poelking. “We want to remind people to slow down and watch for debris and pools of water to avoid hydroplaning.”

PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey called the wet weather a “very significant storm system” for the month of November, adding it has boosted the region above its average rainfall for this time of year.

Lindsey is calling this year a moderate El Niño and expects rainfall to reach 110 percent of average.

At Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the average rainfall for a typical season on Nov. 29 is 2.6 inches, and Diablo has recorded 3.48 inches thus far, as of midday Thursday, Lindsey said.

“This is wonderful news, and it will definitely go a long way to hopefully putting a good dent in the drought,” Lindsey told The Tribune in a phone interview.

Storm impacts

At Cuesta College, three parked vehicles were struck when a large tree fell at about 11:20 a.m. Thursday, said Ritchie Bermudez, a campus spokesman, causing damage to the cars but no injuries.

“The trees have been removed,” Bermudez said. “Nobody was in any of the cars at the time.”

In other areas in the county, the rain caused multiple traffic hazards from debris in the roadway and appears to have contributed to two serious rollover crashes Thursday afternoon on Highway 101 — one near the Higuera Street off-ramp and another near the summit of the Cuesta Grade — though no injuries were reported in either crash, according to the CHP.

Fallen power lines also caused closures and delays. Late Thursday afternoon, the San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department closed Lake Nacimiento Drive at Interlake Road due to downed lines, and PG&E crews were attending to repairs.

Some county residents from Shandon to Nipomo were also reportedly without power from a handful of small outages affecting no more than 500 people apiece.

Passengers in San Luis Obispo awaiting the afternoon Amtrak Surfliner were delayed by roughly an hour after the train struck a downed tree north of Carpinteria. No one was reported injured, according to Amtrak.

On the North Coast, a section Highway 1 to Big Sur remained closed in two places until further notice due to mudslides, with the Mud Creek and Paul’s Landslide areas blocked from public passage. The road was first closed at noon Wednesday.

“The gates on either side of Mud Creek and Paul’s Slide will be key locked,” Caltrans District 5 spokeswoman Susana Cruz said in a statement. “These gates will not be manned when the highway is closed and there will be no access to anyone, including Emergency Services or Caltrans employees until a proper assessment can be made and any necessary cleanup has been completed.”

An inspection is expected Friday morning, according to the news release.

In Morro Bay, Harbor Department officials posted an advisory of a hazardous harbor entrance and were discouraging boats from trying to enter the harbor area.

“At this point, anyone trying to enter the harbor should do so with extreme caution, and we’re discouraging transit through entrance,” said Becka Kelly, a Harbor Patrol supervisor, by phone.

Kelly said that a boat from out of the area was considering entering the harbor Wednesday night, but harbor officials discouraged the entry and the boat captain ended up mooring at Port San Luis.

Forecast and rainfall totals

Lindsey said wet weather patterns will continue on and off for the next week, with rain expected Saturday morning, as well as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the heaviest precipitation coming Wednesday.

Then on Dec. 8-9, more rain is expected.

Among the 36-hour rainfall totals recorded at various county locations as of 1:35 p.m. Thursday were 2.72 inches at Cal Poly, 4.13 inches at Atascadero on Cebada Road, 1.87 inches at the Paso Robles Airport and 3.4 inches in Adelaida, Lindsey said.

In the South County, 1.14 inches fell in Arroyo Grande on South Halcyon Road, 1.68 inches fell in Nipomo and 0.87 fell in Pismo Beach.

On the North Coast, Cambria’s Walter Ranch recorded 3.2 inches, Los Osos received 2.64 inches, and 2 inches fell in Morro Bay.

Rising swells on Thursday afternoon were expected to peak at 17 to 19 feet, decreasing to 15 to 17 feet by Thursday night, Lindsey said. By they’re expected to decrease to 13 to 15 feet on Friday morning, further lowering to 8 to 10 feet by Friday night. The weekend swells are forecasted to reach 7 to 9 feet, into Sunday.

Morro Bay boat parade postponed

The Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade scheduled for Saturday along the Embarcadero has been postponed until Dec. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m., due to high winds and rain, the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce said in a news release.

The assessment was a collective decision including the event coordinator, city of Morro Bay Tourism, the Harbor Patrol and the city of Morro Bay.

“Any significant precipitation from light to torrential is a real safety threat, with wet decks, potential wind, and limited visibility,” said Eric Endersby, harbor director, in a statement. “The inclusion of portable generators and electrical cords strung over and around persons on boats are dangerous in the rain.”

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