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El Niño-Driven Storms To Bring Weeklong Rainfall To San Diego

Photo caption:

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Clouds hover over Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, Jan. 4, 2016.

A series of four El Nino-driven storm systems spanning the Pacific Ocean have taken aim at San Diego County — the first, the smallest of the bunch, arrived early Monday morning.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: National Weather Service San Diego

This map of San Diego County shows predicted rainfall totals from a series of Pacific storms taking aim at the region. By Friday, 3 to 4 inches of rain could deluge the coast, while 5 to 8 inches could fall in the mountains, according to the National Weather Service, Jan. 4, 2016.

Over the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Monday, the bands of dark clouds dropped 0.42 of an inch of precipitation on Otay Mountain; 0.41 on Mount Laguna; 0.28 in Campo; 0.24 in San Ysidro; 0.23 on Dulzura Summit; 0.19 in Point Loma; 0.14 in Alpine and Flinn Springs; 0.13 in Chula Vista; 0.12 at Lindbergh Field; 0.1 in El Cajon; 0.09 in Mission Valley; 0.08 in La Mesa, Ramona, San Diego Country Estates and Santee; 0.07 in Del Mar, Linda Vista and Solana Beach; 0.04 in Encinitas; 0.03 in Valley Center; and 0.02 in Carlsbad, San Marcos and Vista.

By Friday, up to 4 inches of rain could deluge the coast, while 6 to 8 inches could fall in the mountains.

In addition to the rainfall, gusty winds, large surf and mountain snow could batter the region for at least five consecutive days, said National Weather Service forecasters in San Diego.

The strongest of the storms is expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon and continue into Wednesday morning, bringing with it heavy downpours, strong winds and potentially damaging waves.

“This very large surf is capable of producing beach erosion, minor coastal flooding during high tide, very strong rip currents and damage to coastal structures such as piers,” said National Weather Service forecasters in a Facebook post.

A high surf advisory is scheduled to take effect at 4 p.m. Monday and expire at 10 p.m. Friday. Waves are expected to peak at 4 to 7 feet on Monday, 5 to 8 feet Tuesday through Wednesday, and 8 to 15 feet Thursday.

Potentially damaging ocean waves, coastal flooding, strong rip currents and beach erosion will be possible from Wednesday night through Friday morning.

Temperatures five to 10 degrees below average are also in the forecast this week. Snow levels are expected to drop from 6,500 feet on Monday to 4,000 feet on Thursday. More than a foot of snow is expected above 5,500 feet.

Photo by Susan Murphy

Brandon Smith (left) with the Alpha Project outreach team gives a homeless man a pair of rain boots and a rain jacket ahead of forecasted heavy rains in San Diego, Jan. 4, 2016.

The prolonged rainfall could lead to flash floods and debris flows — especially in areas that burned during the 2014 fires, emergency officials warned. A flash flood watch has been issued from Tuesday morning through late Wednesday night for San Diego County coastal areas, mountains and valleys.

Free sandbags are available for residents throughout San Diego County, including at fire agencies, to help people protect their homes and neighborhoods from flooding and soil erosion.

The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services is encouraging the public to get ready for this winter's El Niño. More information is available here.


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