10:38 pm update from Dave Hovde:
Widespread snow is happening in northern SLO County. CHP is doing round robins to slow traffic up and down the Cuesta Grade.
9:37pm update from meteorologist Dave Hovde:
9:06pm update from meteorologist Dave Hovde:
Snow on the Cuesta Grade again with more reports from northern SLO County:
It has already been a wild weather day for the Central Coast. We've already seen a tornado warning (very rare for the Central Coast) issued this morning near the Casmalia area, it is no longer active and no damage has been reported.
The long-lasting flash flood warning is the key concern into the overnight:
The Grapevine has been closed down due to heavy snow with more snow on the way for that area into (and possibly thru) Saturday.
The Grapevine did re-open around 5:30pm but conditions could change again with more snow in the forecast in that area later tonight.
Local winter storm warnings and blizzard warnings are still in place for snow at high elevations. Currently, the snow level is about 4500ft but will drop to 3000ft later tonight. This doesn't put snow in most populated areas of the Central Coast but travel is extremely dangerous in these areas and travelers need to be aware.
The key issues moving forward are the additional rainfall, rainfall rates, saturation, wind, and thunderstorm potential.
The upper low moving over the area has cold unstable air aloft and vorticity (spin). Thunderstorms that form can produce brief heavy rains and hail but also have a small possibility of producing waterspouts and tornadoes. In California, in winter these tornados are usually brief and weak but can not be discounted as a forecast concern thru Saturday.
The Storm Prediction Center has identified the area as being at a risk for thunderstorms for the rest of today and for the southern part of the area Saturday.
Sunday looks like a brief break in the rain before more, but weaker, systems Monday thru Wednesday.
Rainfall amounts already range from .75-7". The lightest amounts are along the SLO County north coast and the higher amounts are in the foothills and mountains of Southern Santa Barbara county.
Lompoc has almost 4.5" of rain as of 3:15 pm and Gibraltar Dam has 7". We could see another 2-4" of rain in the flash flood warning area of Santa Barbara County. That warning is in place until 10 pm.
In SLO County the rainfall and rain rates will be much lower than in southern Santa Barbara County into Saturday but there are already flooded roadways so caution is advised even outside of the Flood Warning area.