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Yes — it’s been windier than normal. Here’s why

The Pacific Ocean crashes against Morro Rock.
Allison Herrera
The Pacific Ocean crashes against Morro Rock.

The Central Coast has been experiencing unseasonably strong and persistent winds.

Wind speeds vary by location but, according to the weather readings at the Diablo Canyon meteorological tower as of Monday, 33 of the last 45 days have seen winds of 40 miles per hour or greater. One day last week even got winds above 58 miles per hour. That is much higher than the area’s average wind speed during this time of year, which is 21 miles per hour.

The Central Coast is known for its springtime winds. But available historical data going back to 1976 shows this is unusual for the area.

“I’ve never seen so many days in a row to reach northwesterly winds of that velocity,” said Central Coast Meteorologist John Lindsey.

Lindsey has been watching the weather locally for more than 30 years. He said the San Luis Obispo area is likely seeing the strongest winds across the entire Central Coast, from Santa Cruz down to Santa Barbara County’s Point Conception.

Lindsey said the windy conditions align with the La Niña pattern persisting across the country. He said these winds are beneficial on one hand because they help increase upwelling off the coast, which brings colder, nutrient rich seawater to the surface.

“For the last 15, 20 days, we’ve had sea water temperatures 48, 49 degrees,” Lindsey said.

He said the upwelling is helpful ecologically because the rising nutrients encourage plant growth and phytoplankton blooms, which can in turn feed fish.

But there are negative consequences as well. High winds often mean less marine layer and greater fire danger.

“If you don’t have that fog drip, unfortunately it drops the moisture levels in that vegetation, which becomes fuel,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey said there will be a temporary break in the winds through Thursday, but they’ll be back by Friday.

“Those winds will probably just keep on blowing," Lindsey said. "I don’t see really any break in them.”

Though, Lindsey said, the winds will die down by the fall. The lighter winds are expected to come with regular seasonal changes.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.