SLO County neighborhood ordered to shelter in place as storm knocks down trees, power lines

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Update, 4:20 p.m.:

The shelter-in-place order has been lifted, and access to The Pike is once again open, according to the San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services.

Original story:

Residents in an Arroyo Grande neighborhood were told to shelter in place Sunday morning after high winds from an atmospheric river storm knocked down trees and power poles in the area.

The Pike was closed from South Elm to Halycon Road in Arroyo Grande as of 11:30 a.m. due to downed eucalyptus trees.

PG&E spokesperson Carina Corral told The Tribune a large eucalyptus tree fell through power lines in the area, breaking about 10 power poles. Initial dispatch calls from the area noted some of the poles had been “shattered like toothpicks.”

One 70-foot tree also fell over a house on the street, blocking the road and landing with its uppermost branches on the roof of the home. Shattered utility poles and lines fell on cars parked in driveways and on the street

The Pike was closed from South Elm to Halycon Road in Arroyo Grande as of 11:30 a.m. due to downed eucalyptus trees. Residents in the area were told to shelter in place as power lines were blocking homes.
The Pike was closed from South Elm to Halycon Road in Arroyo Grande as of 11:30 a.m. due to downed eucalyptus trees. Residents in the area were told to shelter in place as power lines were blocking homes.

The downed power poles and lines blocked homes along that stretch of road between Garflied Place and Gaynfair Terrace. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services issued a shelter-in-place order to residents in that area.

As of Sunday at 11:30 a.m., PG&E and Five Cities Fire Authority representatives were telling residents of the homes who came out to view the scene via loudspeaker to stay inside due to the danger from the power lines.

Corral said the downed lines caused an outage for 6,419 customers. PG&E crews were working to restore power at the scene, as quickly and as safely as possible, she said.

Five Cities Fire Authority Captain Barton Pearson evaluates trees that fell across The Pike in Arroyo Grande as an atmospheric river storm brought strong winds to San Luis Obispo County on Feb. 4, 2024.
Five Cities Fire Authority Captain Barton Pearson evaluates trees that fell across The Pike in Arroyo Grande as an atmospheric river storm brought strong winds to San Luis Obispo County on Feb. 4, 2024.

Arroyo Grande Public Works crews were at the scene sawing the fallen trees into chunks so they could be moved to make way for power line repair workers. They were also using a tractor to clear gutters that had filled with eucalyptus bark.

San Luis Obispo County was under a high wind warning issued by the Weather Service in effect through 6 a.m. Monday. due to the strong storm that slammed into California on Saturday night.

South to southeast winds of 30 to 50 mph with gusts between 70 to 80 mph were expected, according to the Weather Service.

“People should avoid being outside near large trees and powerlines,” the Weather Service wrote in its high wind warning on Sunday. “If possible, remain indoors and avoid windows. Use extra caution if you must drive.”

Two trees fell in opposite directions across The Pike in Arroyo Grande as an atmospheric river storm brought strong winds to San Luis Obispo County on Feb. 4, 2024.
Two trees fell in opposite directions across The Pike in Arroyo Grande as an atmospheric river storm brought strong winds to San Luis Obispo County on Feb. 4, 2024.

According to a post by meteorologist John Lindsey on X, the weather station at the PG&E TV Towers on the Cuesta Grade recorded continuous south winds at 48 mph, with gusts reaching 72 mph, early Sunday morning.

By mid-morning, gusts were coming in at 79 mph, he said.