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Lompoc Rain Storm
Shoppers walk through the rain at Vons on North H Street in Lompoc Monday morning.//Len Wood/Staff 12/7/09 photo Len Wood

A frigid winter storm dumped rain across the Central Coast Monday, leading to precarious driving conditions but mostly just minor accidents.

The cold front moving through the region overnight was expected to bring snow showers to higher elevations, with as much as 2 feet forecast along Interstate 5 over the Grapevine north of Los Angeles.

The snow level could drop as low as 1,500, according to the National Weather Service, although accumulations in local mountains were not expected to be heavy.

With the rain, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol are reminding drivers to slow down, particularly when highway workers, law enforcement or tow truck drivers are working near the roadway; pay attention to electronic message boards and other road signs on road conditions, lane closures or detours; check  head and tail lights, brakes, windshield wiper blades and tires; and call 9-1-1 in case of hazards and incidents.

Driving should be easier on roads today, as mostly sunny skies are expected throughout the region, according to the National Weather Service.

However, its just the calm before the next storm, with more of the wet stuff to come.

Another, likely weaker storm is expected to sweep through the area beginning Wednesday night, with rain anticipated on and off through the weekend, the NWS said.

According to county Public Works Department rainfall data, the county administration building off Betteravia Road in Santa Maria recorded 0.69 inches of rain from the storm, while Lompoc City Hall recorded 0.90 inches, the report said.

Over an inch of rain was recorded at the county Fire Station in Buellton, 1.05, and at the county Fire Station in Santa Ynez, 1.04.

In Santa Maria, a high of about 55 and a low of about 32 is forecast for today.

There is a 40-percent chance of rain Wednesday night, increasing to a 60 percent on Thursday, the NWS said.

The city of Santa Maria has made sand for sandbags available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the City Public Works Yard, 830 W. Cypress St., and at all times at on West Carmen Lane just west of Depot Street and Suey Crossing.

The city does not provide sandbags, which can be purchases from local hardware stores and building-supply companies.

For Lompoc, a high of about 54 and a low of about 32 is forecast for today, with a high of near 56 and a low of about 41 Wednesday with a 40-percent chance of rain.

For southern San Luis Obispo County, the NWS is calling for a high of about 54 and a low of about 34 for today in Arroyo Grande. On Wednesday, Arroyo Grande should see a high of about 56 and a low of about 42 with mostly cloudy skies and a 40 percent chance of rain at night.

In Nipomo today, a high of 55 with a low of around 31 is forecast with mostly sunny skies during the day giving way to partly cloudy skies.

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Beginning Monday in San Luis Obispo County, Cal Fire began cutting back its seasonal wildland firefighting resources for the 2009-10 winter period, the agency announced.

Although the winter months are here, wildfires can flare up during unexpected hot and windy days, Cal Fire said.

Monday also marked the opening of the 2009-10 open burn season in San Luis Obispo County, a period affecting the burning of residential yard trimmings in backyards and agricultural wastes.

All burning requires a permit from the SLO County Air Pollution Control District (APCD). Backyard burning may only be conducted on residential property outside urban and village reserve lines in rural areas on a designated burn day, Cal Fire said.

 Open burn season typically closes at the end of April when local fire agencies predict an increasing risk of wildfires from drying brush and grass.

APCD backyard and agricultural burn permit applications are available at most Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire stations, the APCD office, some libraries and the Nipomo and San Miguel Community Services District offices.

For information, call the APCD at 781-5912 or visit

Call 1-800-834-2876 for Burn Day information.

December 8, 2009