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Stormy Weather Moves East; Hail, Lightning Possible

Above: San Diegans play in the snow on Laguna Mountain, Jan. 7, 2016.

Aired 1/7/16 on KPBS Midday Edition.

El Niño Storms Continue To Soak San Diego County


Alex Tardy, warning coordination meteorologist, National Weather Service, San Diego

UPDATE: 5 p.m., Jan. 7, 2016: Stormy weather moving east

The showers that hit San Diego County’s inland and coastal areas Thursday afternoon have moved east.

And moving with them — possible small hail and isolated lightning strikes, according to the National Weather Service. And more snow will continue in the county’s mountain areas, where road conditions require chains.

As of 4:30 p.m., Caltrans said a high-wind advisory was in effect from Alpine to Imperial County. Travel was not recommended for campers, trailers or permit loads.

This was the fourth straight day of an El Niño storm that has brought torrential rain, snow, flooding, road closures, power outages — just general havoc for a region that has gotten little precipitation in recent years. Here’s a roundup of some of the havoc.

• Lots of roads are closed, particularly in the Mission Valley area near the Fashion Valley mall. The San Diego River is overflowing into roads by the mall. Roads have been closed and opened throughout the county because of the rain. Public safety officials are asking that people not drive around barricades. It’s not safe.

In Barrio Logan, northbound Harbor Drive was closed around 3:15 p.m. between Sampson and Schley streets because of sinking pavement, according to a San Diego official. Repair work was underway, with no estimate on when it would reopen.

The San Diego County Department of Public Works is keeping an updated list on its Twitter feed.

• Lifeguards responded around 3:30 p.m. to La Jolla, where two people were stuck on a sea bluff at Boomer Beach, off Coast Boulevard, a fire department spokesman said. Neither was injured.

• A large sinkhole developed early Thursday morning near a seawall in the La Jolla Shores area, reported 10News, a KPBS news partner. It was at the bottom of Avenida De La Playa and Camino Del Oro, across from the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

San Diego Gas & Electric said a new gas line will need to be built to divert service in the area away from the hole, 10News said. With the continuing rains, it was not known when repairs could start.

• Efforts were underway Thursday to clean up a Goodwill store in Escondido, where a roof partially collapsed about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to 10News.

Escondido fire crews arrived at the store on West Washington Avenue near North Tulip Street to find water gushing in from a broken pipe. Sprinklers in the store also went off, drenching everything, according to 10News.

Rainbow Timelapse

Perhaps this signals the end of our recent spate of nasty weather?

Posted by Ethan Gibney on Thursday, January 7, 2016

A timelapse video shows a rainbow appearing over the San Diego region, Jan. 7, 2016.

UPDATE: 1:17 p.m., Jan. 7, 2016: Rainfall and snow totals

The drenching sustained in San Diego County during the stormy spell has been significant. Over a 72-hour period ending at 9 a.m., the unsettled atmospheric systems shed 6.63 inches of rain on Mount Woodson, 5.82 in northern Poway, 5.50 in Pine Hills, 5.38 at Henshaw Dam, 5.27 in Julian and 5.05 at Miramar Lake.

Other three-day precipitation tallies include 4.94 in the Palomar area, 4.93 at Lake Cuyamaca, 4.90 at Ramona Airport, 4.76 in Kearny Mesa, 4.19 in Barona, 4.16 in Descanso, 4.12 in Harbison Canyon, 4.05 in Flinn Springs, 4.02 in Santee, 3.90 in Santa Ysabel, 3.82 in Rancho Bernardo, 3.75 in Scripps Ranch, 3.63 in Alpine, 3.41 in Granite Hills, 3.22 in Linda Vista, 3.21 in Rincon Springs, 3.18 in Mission Valley, 3.17 in Lakeside, 3.15 in Santee, 3.11 in La Mesa, 3.07 in Escondido, 2.91 in El Cajon, 2.79 in Oceanside, 2.76 at Lindbergh Field, 2.64 in Warner Springs, 2.63 in Encinitas, 2.40 in Vista, 2.38 in Carlsbad, 2.09 in Fallbrook, 2.07 in Borrego Springs, 1.88 in Point Loma and 0.30 in Solana Beach.

The storms also brought widely varying amounts of snowfall to the East County highlands, including 12 to 15 inches on Mount Laguna, about seven inches on Palomar Mountain, an inch or so in Pine Valley and a light dusting in Descanso, according to meteorologists.

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m., Jan. 7, 2016: Forecast

If you only see pretty, white clouds overhead, enjoy it. More rain is expected Thursday afternoon.

And if you like snow, head to our local mountains. There’s plenty there. Just take chains and be prepared for a slow drive on the roads.

The forecast for inland and coastal San Diego County calls for more showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Those conditions could continue into the evening.

The Mount Laguna and Palomar Mountain areas are blanketed in snow, and the snowy weather is expected to continue on Thursday and Friday. Thunder also is possible.

The high Thursday at Mount Laguna is forecast for 35, with gusts up to 50 mph. Up to 8 inches of snow is possible during the day, with up to 4 inches during the night, the weather service said.

At Palomar Mountain, the predicted high Thursday is 41, with wind gusts up to 30 mph. As much as 7 inches of snow could fall during the day, with another 3 inches possible overnight, the weather service said.

If you want to get the weather forecast for your region, click here.

UPDATE: 11:05 a.m., Jan. 7, 2016: Qualcomm Stadium runs out of sandbags

San Diego Police began turning away people looking for sandbags at Qualcomm Stadium around 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Supplies at the distribution site had been completely depleted after residents collected some 20 tons in sandbags, said San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman.

Sherman said another 20-ton delivery is expected around 11:30 a.m.

Some 4,500 sandbags – equal to two tons – were handed out Thursday at Qualcomm Stadium.

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m., Jan. 7, 2016: Lightning strikes plane

A San Diego-bound airplane was struck by lightning while approaching Lindbergh Field Thursday, but no one was hurt.

Southwest Airlines flight 1783 from Las Vegas sustained a lightning strike while approaching San Diego International Airport around 7 a.m. but was able to land safely, according to the airline.

The plane was taken out of service, which caused a delay of about two hours for travelers on the next flight. A second plane will accommodate passengers on Southwest Airlines flight 518 from San Diego to Phoenix, according to the airline.

UPDATE: 8:30 a.m., Jan. 7, 2016: School closures

School has been canceled for all schools in the Mountain Empire School District due to the weather, according to the district's website. Schools in the district are in East San Diego County.

Another East San Diego County district, Dehesa School District, is closed Thursday, according to the San Diego County Office of Education.

The schools will remain closed Friday, according to the office of education's Twitter stream.

Original story:

The latest in a weeklong series of El Niño-driven storms continued to soak San Diego County early Thursday and the torrential rainfall, strong wind and hail could wreak havoc on morning commuters.

In a four-day period ending at 4:05 a.m. Thursday, automated gauges collected 5.72 inches of rain on Mt. Woodson; 4.85 inches on Palomar Mountain; 4.69 inches in Julian; 4.05 inches in Ramona; 3.84 inches in Poway; 3.79 inches in Oak Grove; 3.18 inches in Descanso; 3.06 inches in Alpine; and 3.05 inches in Rancho Bernardo.

Numerous other locales reported less than 3 inches of rain, including Valley Center with 2.81 inches of rain, Santee with 2.76 inches, Lindbergh Field with 2.44 inches and 1.91 inches in Borrego Springs, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service.

Around 4 a.m. Thursday, Doppler radar picked up a line of strong thunderstorms from near Solana Beach east to Poway, Ramona and the San Diego Country Estates. Weather service meteorologists said they were moving east at 35 miles per hour.

Forecasters said cloud-to-ground lightning, half-inch hail and winds in excess of 40 mph would be possible during the latest storm and could affect Alpine, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Julian, Mount Laguna, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach, Ramona and Rancho Santa Fe.

"Torrential rainfall is also occurring with this storm and may lead to flash flooding," according to the weather service. "Do not drive your vehicle through flooded roadways."

A weather service winter storm warning for the mountains above 4,500 feet will extend until 10 p.m. Thursday. A flood warning for the San Diego River in Mission Valley will expire Thursday morning, and a flash flood warning for the beaches, valleys and mountains will end at noon Thursday.

Flooding may also be possible along the coast, as a large northwest swell peaks with occasional surf sets of 10 to 14 feet. A high surf warning is set to end at 10 p.m. Friday.

"This kind of surf is capable of damaging coastal structures as well as producing coastal flooding and beach erosion," according to the weather service.

Forecasters said rain showers and isolated thunderstorms would continue to deluge some locales as the storm moved through the region Thursday morning but gradually become less intense Thursday night through Friday.

Forecasters said that although the rainfall Thursday would be more localized and brief than Tuesday and Wednesday, local flash flooding would be possible through late morning.

"Periods of heavy rain will continue a threat of flash flooding, mud slides and debris flows to recently burned areas, as well as steep and/or unstable terrain below the snow level," according to the weather service. "Urban flooding, and minor flooding of small streams and low water crossings will also be possible."

The weather service said an additional 6 to 10 inches of snow could accumulate in the mountains through this evening. Southwest winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 mph will also be possible through Thursday night.

But the heavy mountain snow is soon expected to lighten up, according to the weather service. Forecasters said snow would continue Friday, but showers would be scattered and light.

Blowing snow and fog could lead to hazardous driving conditions. Travelers on mountain roads were advised to carry tire chains, extra clothing and food.

However, more rain will be possible over the upcoming weekend and again next week, according to the weather service.

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