Stormy weather prompts coastal highway closure, floods local roads

Jan 29, 2021

1/29/21 UPDATE

Just a few dozen Central Coast residents remain without power this morning as PG&E and SoCalEdison continue to clean up damage from this week's storm. Advisories for high surf remain in effect through this evening. Highway 1 remains closed from Ragged Point to Big Sur, and no estimate on when the coastal highway will reopen after a mudslide covered the road near Big Creek Bridge. Storm-related damage and flooding has closed several roads across Monterey County. In the Santa Ynez Valley, Highway 246 is closed due to downed trees in the roadway and Caltrans crews are on the scene. Many roads across the Central Coast are still experiencing flooding, so extreme caution while driving is advised. 

1/28/21 UPDATE

Thousands of Central Coast residents remain without power this morning as PG&E works to restore downed lines. The largest outages are in Cambria, Atascadero, Paso Robles and east of Santa Margarita. Advisories for high surf, coastal flooding, high wind and flash flooding remain in effect throughout the day." class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">

Heavy rainfall is forecasted to continue, with thunderstorms possible starting mid-morning. Santa Rosa Creek in Cambria crested its banks overnight, prompting local road closures, and many roads across the Central Coast are experiencing flooding and high winds are bringing down trees. The CHP are responding to several crashes across SLO County this morning. Storm-related damage and flooding has closed several roads across Monterey County, with flash flood warnings in effect for much of the Big Sur area. Flooding has prompted the closure of some Highway 101 off-ramps south of Salinas and near Camp Roberts, and we're seeing flooding near the Madonna Road exit in San Luis Obispo, on California Blvd near Foothill and the San Luis Drive and 101 off-ramp. 

1/27/21  UPDATE

Moderate to heavy rain continues to fall across the Central Coast today, with the Big Sur area expecting up to ten inches of rain. Highway 1 remains closed from Ragged Point to Big Sur, and a mudslide within that closure area Wednesday morning has further blocked the roadway. This morning a mudslide south of Salinas temporarily trapped people in their home and prompted an evacuation of horses and other animals. A high surf advisory is in effect for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and a wind advisory is in effect for the entire Central Coast, with wind gusts expected up to 50 miles per hour. In Cambria, roads are flooding and a flash flood advisory is in effect.

Across San Luis Obispo County, there are dozens of power outages, with about 250 customers without power in Atascadero due to storm-related issues. There's another large outage in the Shandon Area. In Paso Robles, police have closed South River Road through Thursday. We will update this post as more information becomes available.

Initial report 1/26

Some Monterey County residents are choosing to evacuate areas burned by a wildfire last summer, and starting Tuesday, January 26 at 5 p.m., Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast is closing, from Ragged Point north 45 miles to Big Sur.

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“The decision to close came last [Monday] night,” said Caltrans spokesperson Kevin Drabinski.

The closure is due to a serious risk of mudslides or debris flows where 2020’s Dolan Fire burned over a hundred thousand acres. The stretch of coastal highway is expected to be closed through January 28 or beyond, depending on whether there is storm damage to the roadway.

Caltrans’ Drabinski said stormy weather will impact driving on the coast

“We anticipate those would be really stormy conditions to drive on and it would deter most people from going there anyway, but we just want to set up a buffer,” Drabinski said, adding the highway closure will affect many. “I think the number of people it affects as local residents is in the hundreds, and with the traveling public, it goes up to the thousands.

Meanwhile, SLO County is shutting down it’s San Luis Obispo vaccination clinic Wednesday, due to expected severe winds and rainfall. The other locations around the county are staying open. The county health department says anyone with an appointment for Wednesday will be moved to February 1st.

And as of Monday, that San Luis Obispo COVID-19 vaccination clinic is moving to the Cuesta College campus. The county said ride services are available for eligible residents with appointments who need door-to-door transportation to any of the county’s vaccination sites.