Day after Christmas brings record-breaking heat to SLO County

Larry LaFreniere, left, and son Michael of Atascadero walk their dog, Minnie, on a warm Thursday afternoon in Morro Bay.
Larry LaFreniere, left, and son Michael of Atascadero walk their dog, Minnie, on a warm Thursday afternoon in Morro Bay.

Tank tops and shorts that hadn’t got much use lately were out in full force Thursday at local beaches, where crowds of people chose to spend the day after Christmas soaking up the unseasonable 80-degree weather that again broke county records.

A high of 85 at Cal Poly and the airport in San Luis Obispo topped the previous record of 81 set in 1947, according to PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey. Paso Robles reached a high of 78, beating the previous record of 75 in 1980.

In the South County, Bob Catherwood, of Rhode River, Ore., was in town visiting his daughter for the holidays when they decided to head to Pismo Beach to catch some waves.

Catherwood, who was going surfing for the first time in several years, said the temperature is about 50 degrees warmer in San Luis Obispo County than where he now lives in Oregon.

“I grew up in California, so this is wonderful for me,” he said.

The nice weather wasn't lost on locals, either.

Elizabeth Spears of Grover Beach said she woke up to the sun shining and decided to take her visiting uncle for a walk on the beach.

“It’s gorgeous,” Spears said. “Doesn’t feel like winter though. I remember being at Christmas parades, bundled up in hats and scarves, and it was not like that at all this year.”

Businesses in Pismo also benefited from the sun — where just a few weeks ago, the stores along the beach were partially closed with skeleton staffs, on Thursday, the stores were full, and many restaurants had a half-hour wait or more.

Marissa Fisher, who has worked as a sales associate at Beach West in Pismo Beach for about a year and a half, said she has seen a lot more foot traffic in the store the past few days.

“It brings a lot of people to the shop — because of the nice weather, everyone wants to come to the beach and play and get ice cream and stuff — so it just attracts a lot of people,” Fisher said. “It’s definitely picking up business.”

This year has been one of the warmest and driest on record in San Luis Obispo County and, because of a high pressure front predicted to build early next week, those clear and dry conditions are expected to last into January.

Inland temperatures are predicted to stay in the high 60s and low 70s through next Thursday, with lows in the 20s and 30s.

Along the coast it is expected to be a little warmer, with highs in the mid 70s, and lows between 38 and 42 degrees.

Winds may reach between 19 and 31 mph Saturday afternoon, but they are expected to decrease that night and stay between 8 and 18 mph through next Thursday.