It’s official: Snow has been spotted in San Luis Obispo County.
And it arrived in a sudden spectacle Thursday afternoon.
At about 5 p.m., the county of San Luis Obispo tweeted pictures of snow falling in San Luis Obispo and on the Cuesta Grade.
On Twitter, Caltrans warned of “very heavy commute traffic” along Highway 101 through San Luis Obispo due to weather, urging drivers to “use caution and expect delays.”
Around the same time, heavy hail and sleet were also reported in areas around the county, including southern San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Nipomo.
The sky turned amber as dense gray clouds gathered overhead.
On social media, county residents reacted to the winter weather with excitement — and a little trepidation.
“There’s snow rain hail lighting thunder and it’s sunny at the same time in slo and all the birds are going crazy so it was nice knowing you guys,” wrote a Twitter user who identified herself as paisleeey.
“First snow of the year for San Luis Marble,” the San Luis Obispo company posted on Facebook with a photo showing a pile of hail on their doorstep.
San Luis Obispo resident Matthew Wilkins shared photos of the snow taken at Sands Inn & Suites on Monterey Street on Twitter with the tag #SNOWBispo.
Cold isn’t done yet
The cold weather that spawned the sudden winter flurry isn’t done yet.
The National Weather Service issued an overnight freeze warning Thursday for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
The warning, which is in effect from midnight Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday, affects Central Coast communities including Cambria, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and San Simeon, the agency said. Temperatures are expected to drop to between 29 to 32 degrees on Friday morning, with isolated locations dipping as low as 27 degrees.
A hard freeze can harm outdoor pets and livestock and kill crops and sensitive vegetation, the weather service warned.
San Luis Obispo County had been expecting snow — it just came a little later than predicted.
PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said a “good dusting” of snow was likely early Thursday morning as a winter storm pushed through much of California.
But the sight of snow on area peaks and ridges didn’t materialize and it looked as though San Luis Obispo County had missed its chance at a winter wonderland.
Lindsey told The Tribune that most places around the county had received just a few hundredths to a few tenths of an inch of rain by Thursday afternoon.
That changed by early evening when people began reporting snow and hail falling in bursts in select parts of the county.
Mostly dry weekend ahead
Looking ahead, dry weather is expected through Monday, Lindsey said, but a weather system may deliver a few rain showers on Sunday.
Early next week, a “prominent” low-pressure system could bring a plume of subtropical moisture into California, which could bring moderate to heavy rain across the Central Coast through the middle of next week, Lindsey said. And the wet weather could continue past that.
“The first week of March is looking pretty wet,” Lindsey said, cautioning that he is relying on long-range forecast models that are subject to change.