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Rainy Christmas expected as first of storm series hits Central Coast

Angel Russell

Storms are expected to sweep across the entire state this week, bringing rain and snow which may complicate travel plans for the holidays.

Pacific Gas & Electric meteorologist John Lindsey said the storms this week could bring quite a downpour.

“Total rainfall amounts from Wednesday into Monday are expected to range between 3 to 6 inches, with higher amounts in the Santa Lucia Mountains," Lindsey said.

Lindsey said this December is wrapping up to be a wet one, with well above normal rainfall amounts — especially for it being a La Niña year.

“Usually, most of the time during a La Niña year we have below average rainfall," Lindsey said. "But so far, we are running way above average rainfall amounts so we just got to keep our fingers crossed that will continue into 2022.”

But with this rain, there will be a threat for local flash flooding in the most flood-prone areas, as well as debris flows off areas recently burned by wildfires such as the Alisal Fire burn scar in Santa Barbara.

Lindsey said people traveling for the holidays should take it slow, and also be mindful of the potential for slippery black ice.

“Highway 101 going over the Cuesta Grade, and especially that bridge that goes over the railroad tracks on the north side of the grade," Lindsey said. "That is notorious for seeing black ice.”

Although all this rain is promising for our local reservoirs, Lindsey said this wet week won’t erase the drought in California.

“It’s going to take a lot of rain to get us out of this drought situation," Lindsey said. "This will definitely put a dent in it, and it's wonderful news, but we still have a long ways to go.”

Lindsey said unfortunately the rain may not last, as long-term models are showing below average rainfall in the months of January through March. But, he said those models also showed a below average rainfall in December.

“And look what is occurring right now! Most of the time the models are correct, but sometimes they are not," Lindsey said. "So this is probably one of those special times where the models have been wrong, which in my opinion is a wonderful thing.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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