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A strong storm Tuesday looks to deliver wind and rain with numerous advisories in place

Grey skies with waves at Pismo Beach
Posted at 8:09 PM, Mar 20, 2023

Today marks the first day of spring but a “winter-style” storm is on the way Tuesday thru Wednesday. This storm will pack strong winds, low snow levels, moderate to heavy rain, large waves, and some flooding potential.

Monday actually saw on-and-off sprinkles and mist already from the stream of sub-tropical moisture pushing at the Central Coast and Southern California. The storm system will use this supply but also push an intense low-pressure center and upper-level trough thru the region Tuesday into Wednesday.

The proximity of the Central Coast to the center of low pressure will create strong S-SW winds 20-35 mph with gusts to 40-50mph at the coast and as high as 60-65mph in the higher elevations of the SLO County mountains. There are advisories and warning in place for most of Tuesday.

Those winds will also produce high surf later Tuesday into early Thursday. Along with the high surf, there is also some coastal flooding possible between the high surf and winds and astronomical high tide on Wednesday some minor beach erosion or flooding of location near the ocean water line is possible.

Outside of wind, the rain rates and total rainfall is a concern. 1-3” of rain is likely with the system with more along S-SW facing slopes and at higher elevations here 2-5+” is possible. Not only is that potential interesting, the rain rates could also be high with downpours and thunderstorms possible. The Storm Prediction Center has identified the Central Coast in a risk area for thunderstorms and the Weather Prediction Center has identified the area as also having a risk of excessive rainfall for this system. There is also a flood watch in place for potential flooding. Rain rates could exceed .50”/hour at times.

If that was not enough, there is also a winter storm warning in place for the higher elevations of the Santa Barbara County mountains. Above 6000ft 1-2 ft. of snow is possible, but 2-10” of snow is possible down to about 3500ft.

The system looks to be quite active into Wednesday afternoon but after that, the system should quickly wane. We’ll get a break in the forecast after that into early next week when some models project another strong system that might hit Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.