SLO got drenched with rain overnight, but the worst is yet to come

Brian Gust brings his watercraft into the dock as rain falls Saturday at Lopez Lake.
Brian Gust brings his watercraft into the dock as rain falls Saturday at Lopez Lake.

Saturday offered a brief respite — following Friday night’s downpour — from the series of storms expected to make landfall on the Central Coast this week. The heaviest of the rain is expected to begin early Sunday morning, continuing until Thursday.

Friday’s storm caused mud and rock slides in Big Sur, which temporarily closed Highway 1. Caltrans lifted the closure Saturday morning, but issued another 48-hour closure notice later in the day due to the incoming storm.

The gates on either side of the Mud Creek and Paul’s slide will be locked during the closure.

PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said Big Sur could receive up to 9 inches of rain during this time, while the rest of the Central Coast could see 3 to 7 inches.

Friday’s rain also brought closures to Hwy. 1 near Malibu, which was also reopened on Saturday morning. Caltrans advised drivers to avoid the Pacific Coast Highway during storms and use Highway 101 instead.

Lindsey said the storms will produce moderate gale-force winds.

“I’ve been forecasting weather along the Central Coast since 1992, I can’t recall predicting periods of moderate gale-force to fresh gale-force (32 to 46 mph) southerly winds along the coastline for such a prolonged period, Sunday night into Thursday,” Lindsey said via email.

By Saturday afternoon, Davis Peak, west of See Canyon, led San Luis Obispo County with 1.87 inches of rain, followed by the Prefumo Crest at 1.45 inches and Diablo Canyon with 1.43 inches.

But rain, mudslides and wind isn’t the only thing Central Coast residents will have to contend with over the coming days.

Warmer-than-average sea temperatures will likely contribute to the highest tides of the year — expected in the upcoming week — which may result in coastal flooding across the county. The highest tides are predicted to occur from Saturday, Jan. 19, through Tuesday, Jan. 22.

The recent rainfall has helped fill county reservoirs. As of Saturday afternoon, Whale Rock Reservoir near Cayucos was just over 73 percent of capacity. Lake Nacimiento was at 16 percent capacity, while Lake San Antonio was at 13 percent.

Lopez Lake was at nearly 40 percent capacity, while the Salinas Reservoir in Santa Margarita was at 79 percent.

A storm that pounded the Central Coast on Thursday, November 29, 2018, brought big waves, tree-toppling high winds and more than 4 inches of rain in some parts of the county.

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