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Atmospheric river to bring heavy rain and high winds to Central Coast later this week

Rain in Downtown San Luis Obispo, CA.
Photo by Amanda Wernik.
Rain in Downtown San Luis Obispo, CA.

An atmospheric river is expected to bring heavy rain and high winds to the Central Coast later this week, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The rain is forecasted to start Wednesday night in San Luis Obispo County.

“It will be dry up to that point, but there will be a quick shift or onset of those moderate rains,” NWS Meteorologist Ariel Cohen said.

The weather service predicts 2 to 4 inches of rain across the region– with areas like south-facing slopes and northwest SLO County potentially experiencing up to 5 inches.

“After Wednesday night into the Thursday time-frame, there’s a possibility for several more days of rain,” Cohen added.

Atmospheric rivers happen when tropical Pacific Ocean water evaporates and moves through the air until it reaches land, unleashing rain.

“They can bring long durations of rainfall, and as the ground saturates, can produce flooding,” Cohen said.

The event may also bring strong winds, rock slides and high surf.

Scott Jalbert with County Emergency Services advises residents to start preparing now.

“Don’t wait for the rain to hit and then realize that you may have a flooding issue,” Jalbert said.

To prepare for possible power outages, Jalbert recommends residents charge their cell phones, grab flashlights and secure batteries ahead of the storm.

He also emphasizes the dangers of driving on flooded roads, as it can be deadly.

Residents in low-lying or flood-prone areas can either purchase sandbags or obtain free ones from the county. A list of sandbag locations, along with tips on preparing for flooding and rain events, can be found at readyslo.org.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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