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Storm Could Cause Flooding In San Diego County

January 14, 2019 1:40 p.m.

GUEST: Alex Tardy, meteorologist, National Weather Service

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Related Story: Storm Could Cause Flooding In San Diego County

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.

Another storm has hit San Diego and heavy rainfall is expected through this afternoon. A flash flood watches in effect for coastal areas and the San Diego river. This storm comes on the heels of some weekend rain and precedes a week of on and off showers in our forecast. It's one of a series of storms to hit our usually parched counties since the new year began. And joining me is National Weather Service meteorologist ALEX TARNEY And Alex welcome to the program. Thanks for having me on. How much rain are we expecting out of this storm.

OK so the first storm coming into San Diego County. We're already seeing pretty widespread light rain occurring across the region. When it's all said and done by tomorrow morning we think a lot of places are going to see three quarters of an inch to as much as an inch and a half. So quite a soaker. The majority of that rain is going to come between this afternoon 3:00 p.m. and about 8:00 p.m. So right during the commute and what areas of the county could experience flooding and what kind of flooding are we talking about.

I think for the most part we're talking about low lying flooding places like San Marcos Spring Valley Escondido places that have common low lying flooding and streets. Now when that heaviest rain comes through during the commute that I talked about between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. there is a potential where we could see some half inch per hour rainfall and that can cause flooding in areas that maybe not so used to it. So anyone is really susceptible to that in the urban area. So it's going to be a little bit of a rough time.

It's already bad enough that it's widespread light right now but it's going to be a little bit of a rough commute. And during the dark hours where some of that water may be significantly building up in low lying areas and in the creeks and so forth and even a significant rise in the San Diego River as well when we get into the dark hours this evening.

Now the CHP reported that they found a sinkhole near the 8 0 5 off ramp to Kearny Villa Road in Sarah Mesa. That's affecting traffic and services to two nearby hospitals. Could the brain make the sinkhole worse and caused problems.

Yeah sinkholes are one of those things that are typically associated directly to water. Now that can be a water main break in that area. It could also be days and days of rain. We've got six inches of rain already in the San Diego Metro area. This water a year and a good chunk of that has come just you know in the new year. So sinkholes can either be you know something that comes from our water lines that break. And they also can become worse and come from areas that are just getting too much rainfall too much runoff.

This storm isn't just hitting San Diego. What is it like around California.

The good news is that these storms are widespread across the state and that's going to be the case the next several days before it shuts off. So for snowpack water supply very beneficial very significant. We're already starting off the season in most parts of Southern California above normal and for northern California. They've been sitting right around normal and this is going to put them up over above normal for most areas that's that's from rain and that's also from snow. So it's very beneficial. This is the time of year where we should be seeing a lot of storms but in years past January have been very dry.

Other than maybe one big storm. So this type of pattern is something we we really bank on for water supply and for snowpack and we can't we can't be too excited because we wanted to continue even into February. We just don't want it to come all at once because that's when we have problems.

Yeah so you know we haven't seen this for the last couple of years. What's driving this succession of storms what kind of pattern are we in and will that continue. Do you think for the next few weeks.

Well the overall weather pattern is the Pacific jet stream is far enough south that it's driving these storms across the state and that looks like that'll be the case at least through Thursday of this week before we start seeing it retreat northward. We don't really know what's causing it per se. There's no exact trigger. We have a weak El Nino trying to form but it doesn't look like at the moment that it's directly correlated so the atmosphere attends the word randomly and that's where you get these extreme patterns sometimes of two weeks of rain and two weeks of nothing.

The problem over the past five or six years is are nothing. Periods have been more like five or six weeks in the middle of the winter. And that's what leads to droughts and water deficits because it's hard to make up missed storms when they're when they're going to far north and passing passing through. So no direct correlation with with anything noticeable in the ocean or atmosphere that's going on at the moment. It might be one of those things where we have to look back and say OK this was going on in this part of the world and that allowed California to have a really wet December and January.

And what about San Diego where are we in terms of rainfall for the year.

So we're doing really well at the official station in downtown San Diego by the airport. We're just shy of six inches. That's almost two inches above the average for this time of year. And it is three times as much as what we saw this time last year. So if you remember last winter well we had basically two storms total. It was severely dry. One of the it was the second driest year on record. And so right now we're sitting at a healthy two inches above normal so when this first storm goes through we could add another inch and then we're not done because there's still some more rain expected for Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening and then and then again Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Wow. OK I've been speaking with National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tarney. Alex thank you. Thanks for having me on.