A cold front brought showers to the region on Wednesday in advance of several storm systems approaching the Central Coast that are expected to drop significant rain through the weekend.
Wednesday’s rainfall — which averaged .25 inches for 24 hours ending at 5 p.m. — was part of a series of storms moving across the Central Coast, said Kristen Stewart, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Santa Maria has received 81 percent of its normal rain to date as of Wednesday morning, according to the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District. The amount is slightly below the normal precipitation to date for Santa Barbara County, which is at 82 percent.
Since Sept. 1, the start of the county’s water year, Santa Maria has received 3.96 inches of rain.
The National Weather Service issued a high surf warning and coastal flooding advisory for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties that was in effect until Wednesday night.
The high surf warning, which indicated dangerous waves were expected to pound the shoreline, was issued in light of possible life-threatening conditions along the coast, the agency said. The coastal flood advisory was issued in light of high winds, seas, and tides that could combine to generate flooding of low areas along the shore.
“We expect the next system to come in Friday night and into Saturday morning — it's going to be a much more significant event than [Wednesday’s rainfall],” said Stewart. “Overall, we could see one to two inches in Santa Barbara County. Locally, you could see up to three inches, especially in areas on the south facing slopes.”
While Wednesday’s rainfall did not create a risk of debris flows or mudslides, Stewart said Friday’s storm system could put pockets of the county at risk.
“We’re definitely expecting the potential for mudslides,” she said.”We’re expecting between a half-inch and three-quarters of an inch per hour and that is above the threshold for debris flows, especially in the recent burn areas.”
The Central Coast should also be prepared for rain to continue next week.
“Through the next week there are likely multiple storms coming through the area but Tuesday is most likely when rainfall will be heaviest. But that estimate could change throughout the weekend,” Stewart said.
Efrem Moore, a public information officer for the California Highway Patrol, noted the higher risk for car accidents during wet weather and urged people to drive with caution.
Moore recommended that drivers reduce their speed, increase their following distance, ensure their tires are properly inflated and remember to turn their lights on when they activate their window wipers.
“Most importantly, you should give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination,” Moore said. “Seems like everybody is still in a hurry even though the streets can be slippery. It’s important to give yourself that extra 15 or 20 minutes to get to your destination safely.”
Temperatures across the Santa Maria Valley are expected to remain moderate throughout early next week, with a high of 63 on Thursday, 64 on Friday, 61 on Saturday and 60 from Sunday through Tuesday. Lows are forecast to remain close to 50 degrees through this week and in the mid to low 40s in the earlier part of next week.