Live updates: Hwy 101 reopens after flooding shut down road in SLO

·6 min read

Update, 5:40 p.m.:

All lanes of Highway 101 are now reopened, according to Caltrans.

The northbound on-ramp at Osos Street and the southbound on-ramp at Lemon Street will remain closed overnight with work expected to resume to open these ramps tomorrow morning.

Update, 5 p.m.:

Northbound Highway 101 has reopened in San Luis Obispo after flooding shutdown the roadway Thursday afternoon.

According to CHP traffic logs, the northbound lanes of the highway reopened around 4:45 p.m. though on and off ramps in the area remain closed.

One lane of southbound Highway 101 is also open at Santa Rosa Street, Caltrans District 5 tweeted Thursday evening.

Caltrans traffic cams show traffic once again moving smoothly through the city, though some areas are still moving slowly.

Update, 4:25 p.m.:

As of Thursday evening, Highway 101 is still closed and traffic still at a standstill through San Luis Obispo due to the flooded roadway.

Caltrans has not released an estimate for when that portion of the road may reopen.

In the meantime, motorists are still advised to find alternate routes avoiding the area.

Meanwhile, some flooding has also been reported on the Tefft Street ramp on Highway 101 in Nipomo, causing its own delays, according to CHP traffic logs.

According to Caltrans’ Quickmap, moderate to heavy traffic jams have been reported in that area.

The ramps are still open, however.

A number of smaller traffic incidents have also been reported around San Luis Obispo County, as the rains continue.

Original story:

Both lanes of Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo were closed Thursday afternoon after more than a foot of rain was reported in the roadway.

Caltrans closed the north and southbound lanes near Santa Rosa Street just before 1 p.m., according to the agency.

The issue appears to be caused by a San Luis Obispo city drain that is backed up, according to Caltrans.

While the city worked to fix the drainage issue, Caltrans, helped by various other agencies, blocked the flooded roadway and redirected traffic.

Highway 101 at the Santa Rosa exits was closed Thursday due to about one to two feet of water flooding the roadway. The issue appeared to be caused by a blocked drain.
Highway 101 at the Santa Rosa exits was closed Thursday due to about one to two feet of water flooding the roadway. The issue appeared to be caused by a blocked drain.

Shortly after the closure was issued, traffic was already backed up along Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo going both directions.

As of just after 2:30 p.m., traffic had backed up in the Highway 101 southbound lanes from San Luis Obispo to nearly the peak of the Cuesta grade. Northbound, traffic was stalled beginning at Los Osos Valley Road through San Luis Obispo.

Travelers should find an alternate route to their destination for the time being, as it is currently unclear when the highway will reopen.

While finding alternate routes, be advised that various roadways throughout San Luis Obispo and the entire county may have flooding. Some stop lights in San Luis Obispo are out as well while a PG&E power outage affects a little more than 300 customers in the area as of 2:15 p.m.

A clogged drain caused Highway 101 to flood in both directions near the Santa Rosa Road exit on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, backing up traffic in both directions.
A clogged drain caused Highway 101 to flood in both directions near the Santa Rosa Road exit on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, backing up traffic in both directions.

Flood advisory issued for SLO County

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties mid Thursday morning as a second day of rain soaked the region.

The flood advisory was issued at about 10:45 a.m. and is in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday.

The rainfall is “capable of minor flooding and shallow mud and debris flows in the Alisal burn scar,” the National Weather Service wrote in a release about the advisory.

“Many areas in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have already seen between 0.50 and 2.00 inches of rain with this storm,” the release said. “Rainfall rates between 0.33 and 0.75 inches per hour will be common across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties through early this afternoon, with locally higher rates possible.”

Santa Barbara County will likely see the heaviest rainfall rates, the National Weather Service noted.

Rain falls with gusty winds in downtown San Luis Obispo, near Marsh Street on Dec. 23.
Rain falls with gusty winds in downtown San Luis Obispo, near Marsh Street on Dec. 23.

Some residents of Cambria experienced a power outage beginning at about 11:10 a.m. Thursday.

According to PG&E, 382 customers had their power turned off, though that quickly decreased to 54 customers before 1 p.m.

The outage is expected to last until about 6:15 p.m. Thursday, PG&E reported.

Forecast calls for up to 4 inches of rain in parts of SLO County

Rain continues to fall steadily across the region, with some areas experiencing periods of heavy downpour and gusting winds.

PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey took video on Thursday morning from around Los Osos to show the rainy, windy weather, which he then posted to Twitter.

Residents and holiday visitors of San Luis Obispo County can expect a few inches of rain to fall through Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

San Luis Obispo is predicted to see 2 to 4 inches between Wednesday evening and Christmas afternoon, while Cambria, Atascadero and Santa Maria can expect 2 to 3 inches in that same time frame.

Rain falls in downtown San Luis Obispo, along Marsh Street near the Masonic Lodge Dec. 23, 2021.
Rain falls in downtown San Luis Obispo, along Marsh Street near the Masonic Lodge Dec. 23, 2021.

Paso Robles will likely receive about 1.5 to 2 inches of rain Wednesday evening through Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service forecasted areas of San Luis Obispo County may experience winds between 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph.

The high for the county is expected to reach 53 degrees, the National Weather Service predicts.

The 45-mile stretch of the highway between Ragged Point and Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn in Monterey County was closed Wednesday evening “due to rockfall and adverse weather conditions,” the agency tweeted Wednesday evening.
The 45-mile stretch of the highway between Ragged Point and Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn in Monterey County was closed Wednesday evening “due to rockfall and adverse weather conditions,” the agency tweeted Wednesday evening.

Highway 1 to Big Sur reopens

Earlier Thursday morning, Caltrans reopened Highway 1 after it was briefly shutdown overnight.

The 45-mile stretch of the highway between Ragged Point and Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn in Monterey County had been closed Wednesday evening “due to rockfall and adverse weather conditions,” the agency tweeted Wednesday evening.

By Thursday at about 9:30 a.m., the popular coastal roadway had reopened.

“Travelers should allow additional driving time especially during the winter driving season,” Caltrans warned motorists in a tweet posted Thursday morning.

Check back here throughout the day for developments on the weather.

Rain runs off the post office roof in downtown San Luis Obispo, Dec. 23.
Rain runs off the post office roof in downtown San Luis Obispo, Dec. 23.