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How long can we expect San Diego’s wet weather to last?

Audio

Aired 12/20/10

We speak to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service about how much rain we experienced over the weekend, and to look ahead at the forecast for the rest of the holiday week. Plus, we hear tips from a CHP public information officer for driving safely in the rain.

We speak to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service about how much rain we experienced over the weekend, and to look ahead at the forecast for the rest of the holiday week. Plus, we hear tips from a CHP public information officer for driving safely in the rain.

Guest

Miguel Miller, meteorologist for the National Weather Service's San Diego office

Mary Bailey, Public Information Officer for the California Highway Patrol

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Winter is coming in with a wallop in Southern California here in San Diego, wind, clouds, rain and fog are making getting around town a challenge. We'll check in with the CHP to find out about driving conditions in just a few minutes issue right now, I'd like to welcome meteorologist Miguel Miller from the national weather service to find out who's getting the most of this weather, and how much more we can expect. And Miguel, welcome to These Days.

MILLER: It's a pleasure, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So what kind of a storm is this? It's really not that cold. Where is the weather coming from.

MILLER: Well, it's coming from the central Pacific out west of Hawaii. So that's -- all that air that was out there several days ago is now here.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is that what they call pineapple express.

MILLER: That's what they call it, yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What do we call it?

MILLER: We just call it a whole lot of moisture coming out of the subtropics.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, because it's coming from a rather warm section of the Pacific, is there much snow generated so far from this storm.

MILLER: Well, in the Sierra Nevada there's a lot of snow, absolutely. But here in Southern California, the freezing mostly or where it starts snowing is too high for most of our mountains, so only on our highest mountain tops in Southern California, and above all of our mountain tops in San Diego County. So we haven't seen any snow yet and probably won't see much before the storm is over.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do we have rain totals for this weekend in San Diego?

MILLER: Yeah, and in fact, we've got some pretty impressive totals. Topping out at Palomar Mountain as recorded as of eight this morning, seven inches.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wow.

MILLER: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and all the way do this morning. Seven inches has fallen there. Of but in contrast, Lindbergh field in San Diego station has only had a quarter inch.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see, that's a big difference. Where does this put us in terms of our rainfall totals for this year? Well, in San Diego, we're running just a little bit above normal for this time of year.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How long can we expect this weather to last? I heard a forecast this morning that we're -- the worst -- the biggest storm is yet to come; is that right?

MILLER: Well, it's all part of the same system.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh.

MILLER: I think the rain is gonna pick up quite a bit, this evening into tonight in San Diego County, and we'll get some pretty significant rainfall, and then there's -- and then Wednesday morning, there's another wave, if you want to call it that, that's gonna drop quite a bit more rain. But then Wednesday evening, things should be moving out, and we'll start to dry autopsy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is there any possibility of flash flooding here in San Diego.

MILLER: There is. Yeah. We're already getting a lot of the soils saturated out here, so they're not gonna be able to absorb the rainfall that's coming up.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And which areas around the county are particularly susceptibility? Do you keep track of that?

MILLER: Yeah, exactly. Of the mountains are our biggest threat right now. Obviously they're harvesting most of the rainfall out of this storm, and they'll continue to do so. It's just a lot of moisture pointed at the mountain, and it's forced upward, and making all that rain come down mostly there. Although we will have messy conditions in the low lands and near the coast as well. Simply because that water's got to pond somewhere. And with all the urbanace fault and everything, it's not gonna be able to drain away quickly enough.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You know, I'm just wording last week at this time, when I was looking at the weather forecast, it just said we might get a little rain oaf the weekend. How far out can you guys see a big storm like this headed our way?

MILLER: Sometimes we can see pretty far out for a real no brainer storm. And so we can say with a higher degree of confidence, yeah, this is gonna happen, get ready. But the guidance that we receive or the computer models, what we used to call the weather chart, they sometimes change their story from day to day, even a few times a day, and so it's -- our confidence is low when they don't match up with each other, or of match up with themselves from day to day. But when they do begin to match up, and it seems to work out with the satellite images and so on and all of that comes together, our confidence going up, and we're able to say with greater certainty what's gonna happen for five days out, versus what's gonna happen tomorrow.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I understand. Now, request predictions on rainfall totals with this very wet part of the storm coming our way?

MILLER: Yeah, at the coast, we could see -- we could get two to three inches of rain inland, in the valleys, something like three inches of rain, additionally, and then for places like pal mar, even Cuyamaca look like it's gonna get some good rain. 7 or 8 inches.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wow.

MILLER: Additionally, so we're reality about halfway through this wet period.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to thank you so much for telling us about this. Thank you, Miguel.

MILLER: All right, you're welcome.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's meteorologist Miguel Villa from the national weather service. I'd like to turn now the kind of havoc the weather can wreck on the freeways. It's been a pretty challenging day today. Public information officer for the California highway patrol, Mary Bailey, joins us with details, and good morning, Mary.

MARY BAILEY: Good morning.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, what was the morning commute like, Mary?

MARY BAILEY: The morning community this morning, from midnight to 9:00 AM, we had approximately 51 collisions that were reported to the CHP, and that was just the highways and roadways. Of so it's Betty busy out there in terms of traffic.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It certainly is. I saw a couple of -- I don't know if I could call them spin outs, but people basically couldn't control their cars and sort of went off the road as I was driving in. Do you have any numbers of how many have been reported between now and last Friday.

MARY BAILEY: We don't have [CHECK].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wow, now, are there any trouble spots around the county that you'd like to anyone listening to this aware of?

MARY BAILEY: [CHECK] near the 163, so definitely pay attention to these, we have a couple stalled cars in the number 1 and 2 lanes, [[]] so it's gonna be pretty heavy, going westbound on interstate eight, so request transition road, on-ramp, anything with a curb in it, you're gonna have a chance of spinning out or hydro planing so really keep your speed down on those transition areas.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A lot of freeways in San Diego area get pretty well flooded pretty easily. And I'm wondering, what should people do? Should you try to maneuver out of these lanes or should you just drive through and hope for the benefit? What's your advice on that?

MARY BAILEY: Well, are first of all, one thing we always tell you, if the roadway is wet, you need to slow down, and that's one of the major causes of collision, people are just going 25069, and they can't react because of the speeds, [CHECK] if you do see some flooding, if you can safely move to another lane, do that, but just don't make any sudden movements, don't make any sudden breaking applications, because that will cause you to loose that nice grip on the highway and you will hydro plane. But don't stop on the freeway whenever you possibly can, but just try to move safely to another lane, and move from there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, come there's weather like this, and which there are so many accounts, what does the California highway patrol actually go to 1234 what do they respond to? Not just collisions, right?

MARY BAILEY: We don't -- we respond to collisions, we respond it any type of objects in the objects in the roadway, any flooding we're gonna go out there for, make sure that we can either get the water off the roadway or close down that portion of the roadway, but one thing we really do, our priorities are anything that's gonna block the roadway, and anything with injuries. So if you are involved in a collision, and your car is drivable, if --exit off the freeway and try to exchange information if there's another vehicle involved. And that way we can get [CHECK].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You continue, a lot of people, San Diegans are notoriously bad drivers in the rain. You hear that over and over again. Do you have any particular tips for San Diegans, things that you know that drivers around here do wrong a lot when the weather is bad?

MARY BAILEY: One thing that we really want you to make sure of is that you check your windshield wipes to make sure that they're working of because we don't get a lot of rain all year, so we forget about checking our windshield wipers. [CHECK]. And then we do have a lot of these nice roadways that like to curve back and forth, that speed's gonna cause to go all over the roadway, and tend to spin out. So check for that, then leave a larger space cushion between you and the vehicle ahead of you, just in case something happens at that vehicle ahead, you're able to react safely, or swerve around it, if that vehicle happens to stop.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are there any conditions so bad that basically you should rethink your travel plans?

MARY BAILEY: I would say no, but if you are gonna travel, have an alternate rout. Definitely carry a map with you. Because of the rainy weather, and there's gonna be so many people out there traveling, there's a chance [CHECK] some flooding, that will have to close the roadway, and you should have an alternate route, bring phone numbers if you're gonna travel [CHECK] that'll happen your traveling out, but give yourself plenty of time, so don't leave late, try to leave early.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mary, thanks a lot.

MARY BAILEY: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with public information officer for the California highway patrol, Mary Bailey. If you would like to comment, please go on-line, KPBS.org/These Days. . Coming up, we'll meet the two newest members of the San Diego Unified School Board that's as These Days continues here on KPBS.

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