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Flash Flood Watch Ends As Rain Passes Through San Diego

A late-season Pacific storm that brought record rainfall to San Diego County along with flooding and gusty winds doused the region Friday.

A flash flood watch was lifted in the afternoon as the storm moved east. But earlier flooding prompted the San Diego Fire Rescue Department to send lifeguards to high-risk areas throughout the county.

“We’re in what’s called an Alert 3, and it’s our special river rescue deployment mode, which means we have lifeguards at high hazard areas throughout the city,” said City Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Capt. Joe Amador said earlier Friday.

The flooding began Thursday night in San Diego when city lifeguards rescued six people and one dog from cars that had become stuck in three feet of water on Midway Drive between Rosecrans Street and Barnett Avenue, said Amador.

Levels in the San Diego and Tijuana rivers rose. Avenida del Rio, one of the main roads into the Fashion Valley mall in Mission Valley, was closed as flood waters from the San Diego River spilled over it Friday, according to the city fire department.

Thunderstorms dropping up to half an inch of rain per hour were expected to also cause flooding in Chula Vista, El Cajon, National City, La Mesa, Imperial Beach, Coronado, Alpine, Linda Vista, Tierrasanta, Mount Laguna, San Diego, Hillcrest, North Park, Point Loma and along Interstate 8.

The rainfall was expected to cause small streams and dry washes to flow into low-lying areas — including in flood-prone areas in San Marcos and Escondido, the weather service said. Minor rock and debris flows are also possible, especially near recently burned areas.

And slick roadways kept emergency crews busy Friday. A semi jackknifed on Interstate 15, and there were nearly 200 car crashes between midnight Thursday and noon Firday. Highway Patrol said on a normal day there are between 100 and 170 crashes.

Due to the likelihood of intense downpours continuing at times on Friday, a flash-flood watch for the coast, the valleys and the mountains was slated to remain in effect until 6 p.m.

"A late-season storm will continue widespread showers and isolated thunderstorms today," according to the weather service. "Locally heavy showers could produce flash flooding as well as mud and debris flows, especially in recently burned areas and on steep terrain."

As of 9 a.m., automated gauges at Lake Cuyamaca collected 1.75 inches of rain, 1.74 inches at Lindbergh Field and at Pine Hills near Julian, 1.5 inches near Valley Center, 1.37 inches in Julian, 1.18 inches in Rainbow and on Palomar Mountain, 1.03 inches in Bonsall and 1.01 inches in Mission Valley, according to the National Weather Service. Nearly an inch of rain fell in Kearny Mesa, Poway, Lakeside, Descanso and on Volcan Mountain.

Friday's precipitation made this the wettest May since 1921, according to the National Weather Service. Rainfall totals are 0.19 lower than the record, with two weeks left in the month.

Storify On Rain Continuing In San Diego County

The onset of much-needed precipitation in the drought-parched county — the second wet spell in a week — arrived early Thursday afternoon. Several daily precipitation records have since been broken or tied.

The county's highest-elevation locales may get dustings of snow Friday, the weather service advised.

The storm is expected to move east out of the region Friday night.

Photos and videos of San Diego County's rainy weather

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