Major storm hits Central Coast—power outages, mudslides, downed trees reported

Jan 28, 2021

A wind-driven heavy rainstorm is causing power outages, downed trees and prompting preparations for flooding and debris flows.

As the rain continues to come down throughout the Central Coast, several trees and power lines have fallen down with it, leading to more than 70 power outages throughout San Luis Obispo county Wednesday morning.

“This winter storm has the potential to be the strongest to hit PG&E service area in several years,” Mark Mesesan with PG&E said. 

More outages can be expected throughout the next few days, and some areas may be out of power for several hours since the conditions are unsafe for employees to repair. 

“Our equipment is not made to respond to gusts of wind that are above 40 miles and hour 50 miles an hour," Mesesan said. "We have had to actually suspend response in particular areas because safety is our most important responsibility.”

High wind, flash floods and coastal flooding advisories are in effect for many parts of the Central Coast. Small mudslides have been reported in Paso Robles and Cambria, evacuation orders are in effect for areas near the Dolan, Carmel and River Fire burn areas due to potential mudslides, and heavy rains are causing flooding. 

“We want rain. We haven’t had a whole heck of a lot of it, we just didn’t want it all at once,” Jorge Garcia with the city of Pismo Beach said.

This year, because of slide threats from 2020's Avila Fire burn scar, the city has staffed extra firefighters, police and equipment on standby in the case of any debris flow from the hillside. 

"If there are any evacuation warnings or actual orders, those will come directly from the CalFire or the police department," Garcia said. "They will go door to door and follow the normal protocols.”

Garcia said emergency staff are keeping an eye on the hillside, and ask all residents that while the storm continues, to stay home.

“This is not the time to go shopping, this is not the time to go drive around and see what the conditions are," Garcia said. "We want people to stay home, stay safe, and stay alert.”

The National Weather Service said over the next three days, as much as 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall along the Central Coast and that this amount of rain in a 72-hour period is very rare for this region.