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More Snow, Rain Expected In San Diego County

February 5, 2019 1:41 p.m.

GUEST: Alex Tardy, meteorologist, National Weather Service

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Related Story: More Snow, Rain Expected 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.

It's Tuesday February 5th. Today is not just rainy in San Diego it's actually a wintery day in the county. In addition to the heavy showers we've got used to over the last weeks there will be snow in the higher elevations of the county and by San Diego standards it will be cold today tonight and tomorrow. The good news is we are very close to meeting and maybe exceeding our average rainfall totals for the year. Joining me with more is Alex tardy warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

Alex welcome to the program. Hi. Thanks for coming on.

What is this storm bringing us around the county today so the showers continue and they seem to not have stopped since Saturday. Saturday was our atmospheric river our big rainfall was widespread and then ever since Sunday and now today Tuesday it's just been raining every hour or two. And the numbers are really starting to add up with these showers because some of them are heavy I drove through one today.

So what areas are expected to see snow out today.

So the cold air really the coldest air of the season is just now starting to come in. I think after sunset when the cold air comes in from the north we're going to see snow levels get down to 4000 feet and then this evening get down as low as five hundred feet. So that means the foothills. That means areas just above Alpine. That means areas just above Ramona getting some of the white stuff. Wow. And how much areas around twenty five hundred feet will pick up an inch. But when you get up around 3000 feet two or three inches when you get up to Julian Pine Valley four to six inches wow because it looks like it's going to last all through the night once the cold air comes in in San Diego County tonight.

Now how unusual is this kind of snowfall in the county.

So we looked at some data yesterday and this type of storm this cold bringing snow that low as about every five to seven years. So if you don't remember a time it's been a while. I remember a time back in 2000 12 and 13 I took my kids up to the mountains but there hasn't been much snow that low for a long time.

Where do you think this storm will bring us in terms of rainfall for the year.

So right now in San Diego about 8 and half inches which is over 3 inches above average for this date our seasonal totals only 10. So we are approaching on that. And when it's all said and done will pick up another half inch of rain in San Diego. And that gets us just under nine inches which is pretty incredible. We still got a lot of winter to go to so we could easily end up with a notably above normal season.

Now you used that term atmospheric river just a while ago and I know that there is a new sort of rating coming out that the National Weather Service is working on to sort of look at storms and rate them along the lines of the way tornadoes are rated. Tell us about that.

Yes the National Weather Service has worked with Scripps and the Center for our Western Water weather extremes. They're all located in La Hoya. And what we've found is in particular some of these storms that come out of the tropics either the Western Pacific or deep in the tropics either one that we used to call just Pineapple Expresses there's a lot more of them than just the ones that come out of Hawaii and they're very beneficial in terms of snow and especially rain. In fact they bring over 50 percent in some cases 60 percent of our annual precipitation from these atmospheric rivers.

So they also come with an impact too much rain can be a bad thing for debris flows flooding rockslides river flooding. And so there's a scale that's been developed that basically tries to rate the impact of that rainfall and also the scientific intensity like the measurement of how much moisture is being transported off the Pacific from the wind and from the storm itself. And put that together into a scale lot like you said like we'd try to do with tornadoes. It's not just the wind speed in the tornado it's also the impact how much damage hurricanes they're doing the same thing like with storm surge and wind speed.

So we're trying to get a rating and this is the first year where they've been officially starting to look at it scripts.

Is there an atmospheric river rating for this particular storm system we're in over the weekend was our main atmospheric river and it was at least a moderate. We saw very strong transport of moisture off the Pacific in fact we even launched special weather balloons at a la Hoya to try to measure that amount. They've been using aircraft and other things. So at least the moderate there hasn't been an official number that come out yet to rate the Saturday atmospheric river.

Now we've seen drought conditions in San Diego for so many years before this now. Can you remind us. Is this a typical winter weather pattern for San Diego. Or is this amount of rain unusual.

It's a little bit unusual for already having this much rain in early February. Now that said a lot of the rain has been spaced apart since late November. The Christmas Day storm the January storm. So we haven't had tremendous flooding the highest the San Diego River as peaked out to is 12 feet. That was back in early December. So some years when we're really wet like 2005 1999 2010 we have even more rain and it's not spaced apart it comes down to much at once and we have a lot more flooding.

So we've kind of been on that fine line between getting a lot of rain but enough time in between so that things settle down. So we're definitely above normal no doubt but we still have February and March to go. And so we've got to kind of keep this pace going to keep us a little bit above normal.

Now I believe we're expecting sunshine if we can recognize it tomorrow I think. But is this storm pattern expected to continue through the rest of the month.

Yes so when you wake up tomorrow. Yes the sun will come up a boy it'll be cold. We'll see 30s even in some of the San Diego valleys and a wet 30s. You know with the ground being wet so you might see some ice and frost on the ground. We see another storm on Saturday it looks relatively weak but enough for rain. So if you have outdoor activity Saturday I do expect some rain on Saturday. We're watching much further out there is the potential for another of those atmospheric rivers February 12th 13th and 14th.

So right near Valentine's Day. Again those can be very moist very warm so to speak type of rainfall. And right now the computer models are indicating that that could be a wet period in the middle of February.

All right then. I've been speaking with the National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tarney. Thank you very much. Thank you.