Storm system eases heavy rain but scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible Saturday

Pismo Beach with cloudy skies
Posted at 6:32 AM, Feb 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-26 01:32:19-05

———3:30 PM UPDATE———-
Good afternoon, Central Coast! What a wild ride!

Good news is, the bulk of the rain has come and gone. Bad news is, I have another rainy week ahead.

While the steady rain and snow has moved east, scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms with brief heavy rain and small hail will
continue until the low moves farther to the east which models show is around midnight tonight.

Rain will tapper off this evening but models shows rain moving into northwest SLO County Sunday afternoon and reaching LA County 
early Monday morning. After that bands of precip will move through every 12 hours or so through Wednesday.

Snow levels not likely to be as low as with the current storm but still in the 3000-4000 foot range. So this will still create issues for many 
of the major roads through the mountains, including the Grapevine.

This next round of rain will be nothing like the last few days. Most areas will receive less than an inch total through the period, though some 
foothill/mountain areas could see slightly more.

——— 10 AM Flooding Update———
Continued scattered showers are moving towards the already flooding Santa Ynez river. The peak is expected around 1PM when runoff and releases from Lake Cachuma will be the most severe. That crest will be just above 17ft, current stage is 15.17ft.

There is a flood warning in place for the Santa Ynez river through 11PM tonight due to flooding risk.

Here is a look at the current river gauge for the Santa Ynez river at Narrows camp as of 10AM.

———8:15 AM Update from Meteorologist Vivian Rennie ———

To see current snow depth visit this link.

To see rain accumulations visit this link.

There is also a winter weather advisory in place for the Santa Ynez mountains just north of Santa Barbara until 4pm this afternoon this includes San Marcos Pass.

This joins the winter storm warnings and blizzard warnings in place already. Moderate snow is expected. Additional snow accumulations of up to two inches above 2500 feet are possible.

———Pervious Article———
Good Morning Central Coast!

There has been quite a span of interesting weather over the past couple of days and today is no different. There are continued scattered showers bringing localized heavy rain and snow today. While this is certainly less widespread than the last few days we will continue to see tricky conditions throughout the day.

As of 6AM Saturday morning, there are a few bands of rain pushing through the south of Santa Barbara County bringing more showers and snow to the higher elevations. We will see more of these types of showers throughout the day today.

Just because the conditions are improving slightly doesn't mean the risk is gone. There is a flood warning in place for the Santa Ynez River as in narrows downstream. This us due to needed releases from Lake Cachuma (that is over 100% capacity) into the river. These releases are expected o raise the river to a crest of 16.6ft at around 8am this morning.

This could cause flooding in the immediate vicinity of the river. Remember to turn around, don't drown when faced with flooded roads.

The Central Coast had an interesting weather week from the snows of Thursday to the heavy rain Friday into early Saturday morning. There was even snow Friday evening on Cuesta Grade and much of northern SLO County when some cool air moved in.

Check out this video from the top of the Cuesta Grade from Caltrans.

That system dumped up to 10+" of rain in parts of the Santa Barbara county mountains. Click here to see an interactive map of rainfall totals. The rest of the Central Coast saw a wide range from 1.5" of rain in the SLO County north coast to 2-6" elsewhere. The total that came up most often was something in the 2.5" area.

That main band of precip associated with the leading edge of the upper trough and atmospheric river stream moved east not long after midnight.

Now, while the main band departed the cold unstable air of the upper-level low still has to rotate thru the area. This will lead to variable clouds and scattered showers, scattered thunderstorms, and upper-level snow showers.

The thunderstorms today have an interesting component, there is some twist-energy (vorticity) in the atmosphere. We could see isolated waterspouts or even an isolated tornado. It is this component that brought in the Tornado Warning in Santa Barbara county yesterday morning. There is that potential to a greater extent today.

If you think that's crazy, we actually experienced one near Casmalia on Friday morning. Local tornadoes tend to be very weak and with the cold atmospheric profile, these cold air tornadic events don't have a lot to work with. Again, this is not a probability just a slight possibility.

This activity will continue to wind down later Saturday and we'll finally get a break later Saturday into late Sunday evening when more showers could enter the area. The upcoming forecast looks active but not nearly as strong as the system Friday into and thru today.

Monday-Wednesday has several cold impulses move thru the area. Low-level snow (2500-3000ft) is possible but not likely down to the valley floors or on the Cuesta Grade.

We should get a break for the rest of the week after that but another light system is possible for the weekend of the 4th and 5th.

The forecast keeps highs in the 50s most of the week with some places finally cracking 60 later in the work week before temps again retreat next weekend.

Have a great day Central Coast and be sure to stay weather aware through the day as there is a continued risk for hazardous weather.