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Cold Storm From Alaska To Bring Gusty Winds, Showers To San Diego

A cold low pressure system from the Gulf of Alaska will bring strong gusty winds and a slight chance of showers throughout San Diego County today, and possibly snow in the mountains this weekend, forecasters said.

Winds will be strongest in the mountains and deserts, with sustained winds topping out at 20 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 55 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency issued a high wind warning for the mountain and desert areas of the county today. The warning is scheduled to expire at 10 a.m. Friday, when a less-serious wind advisory will go into effect, lasting until 3 a.m. Saturday, according to the Weather Service.

The winds will make driving difficult, especially for motorists with high-profile vehicles,'' according to an NWS advisory. "Watch for broken tree limbs and downed power lines. In the deserts, areas of blowing dust and sand could reduce visibility at times.''

The cold front out of the Gulf of Alaska began shifting southward on Tuesday. The bulk of the system will arrive in San Diego County late today, according to the Weather Service, which forecast much cooler temperatures, showers and snow in the mountains heading into the weekend.

Highs on Friday are expected to be in the mid-50s and mid-60s at lower elevations, and in the 30s and 40s in the mountains.

"These high temperatures will be 25 to 35 degrees cooler than high temperatures early this week,'' according to the weather service.

A tenth- to a quarter-inch of rainfall is expected near the coast Friday, while around a half-inch is possible in the mountains. Less than a tenth of an inch will fall in the deserts, forecasters said.

The main periods of precipitation are expected late tonight through early Friday and again Friday night.

"A few showers could linger over southern coastal areas into early Saturday morning and near the mountains into Saturday afternoon,'' according to the NWS.

The snow level is expected to drop to 4,000 to 4,500 feet Friday afternoon and to 3,000 to 3,500 feet Friday night into Saturday. Forecasters said four to eight inches of snowfall is possible above 4,000 feet, and eight to 12 inches could fall on the county's highest peaks.

A winter storm watch is scheduled for areas above 4,000 feet Friday night through Saturday afternoon. That includes Cuyamaca, Julian, Mount Laguna and Ranchita.

A winter storm watch means there is a potential for significant snow accumulations affecting travel.

"Residents and travelers into higher elevations in the mountains should be prepared for hazardous winter weather conditions and possible road closures,'' according to an NWS advisory. "If possible, carry chains and take extra food and clothing. This weather could be deadly for unprepared campers or hikers.''

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