Dangerous surf pounds Central Coast — and it will be here all week

Big surf in Cayucos brings thrills

High surf and big waves thrilled viewers at the Cayucos Pier on Monday, December 17, 2018. The forecast called for king tides throughout the week on the Central Coast.
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High surf and big waves thrilled viewers at the Cayucos Pier on Monday, December 17, 2018. The forecast called for king tides throughout the week on the Central Coast.

Rain doused San Luis Obispo County from Sunday night into Monday morning, dropping more than half an inch in many places along the Central Coast.

Cayucos saw the most rain at 1.25 inches, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey, but a few other places saw more than an inch of rain and Los Osos neared the 1 inch mark.

Most other places got between 0.5 and 0.75 inches of rain, Lindsey said.

While skies are expected to remain fairly clear for the rest of the week, high surf will continue through the week, according to Lindsey.

The National Weather Service issued a high surf warning for San Luis Obispo County, which went into effect early Monday morning and will remain in effect through 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to the agency.

The NWS said the highest surf will be on west- to northwest-facing beaches, peaking Monday afternoon through early Tuesday morning.

The swell peaked Monday morning at 15.4 feet with an 18-second period, Lindsey said. Monday afternoon’s swell, expected to reach 13 to 15 feet with an 18- to 20-second period, will remain at that height through Monday night.

The swell is expected to gradually decrease through Tuesday, Lindsey said. However, another large, long-period swell is expected to arrive Wednesday, peaking between 11 to 13 feet.

“High surf will definitely continue through the week,” Lindsey said. “We’re looking at pretty darn rough oceanographic conditions this week and probably the next few weeks.”

In the advisory message, the NWS said the high surf warning “indicates that dangerous battering waves are expected to pound the shoreline, bringing potentially dangerous conditions.” The agency asked that people stay away from the shoreline through Tuesday, and especially avoid rocks and jetties.

The NWS also issued a coastal flood advisory on Monday morning that will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Tuesday.

In the advisory, the agency said “minor coastal flooding” would be possible between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, during high tide.

The NWS also said there is a “significant threat of frequent, very strong rip currents and powerful breaking waves” and warned of potential damage to piers and other coastal structures.

The strong surf and rip currents create “extremely dangerous, potentially life-threatening” conditions for inexperienced swimmers and surfers, the agency said.

Additionally, large breaking waves are predicted across the Morro Bay harbor entrance, which could capsize small boats, the NWS said.

The area will also see strong to gale-force winds from late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, Lindsey said. Wind speeds are expected to range from 25 to 38 mph.

The next chance of rain is expected for next Monday and Tuesday, Lindsey said. As of Monday, the Central Coast may get about a quarter-inch or so of rain on those days.

“It’s nothing heavy, but any rain at all is a good thing,” Lindsey said.

Gabby Ferreira is a breaking news and general assignment reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. A native of Houston, Texas, she was a reporter in Tucson, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Palm Springs, California, before moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2016.