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First In A Series Of Pacific Storms Hits San Diego

Rain falls on horses in a field in Poway, Jan. 19, 2017.

Photo by Maya Trabulsi

Above: Rain falls on horses in a field in Poway, Jan. 19, 2017.

First In A Series Of Pacific Storms Hits San Diego


Alex Tardy, meteorologist, National Weather Service


Despite a small window of sunshine, storms are expected to continue in San Diego County as the the first in a series of Pacific storms with the potential to deliver the heaviest precipitation since 2010 moves through the region.

Through Monday, the storms will drop heavy snow in the mountains, ranging from 6 inches to a foot between 4,000 feet and 5,500 feet, 1 to 3 feet between 5,500 and 7,000 feet and 3 feet or more on higher peaks, according to the National Weather Service.

Related: Three Strong 'Atmospheric River' Storms Take Aim At San Diego County

"Significant impacts are expected, including very hazardous travel conditions along mountain roadways," forecasters said. Interstate 8 and county roads S-1 and S-7 may be affected.

Over the same five-day period, forecasters also indicated the storms would deliver 1 to 2 of rain to the deserts, 2 to 4 inches along the coast, 3 to 6 inches to the valleys and 6 inches to a foot of rain in the mountains. Flooding may be possible and residents living in flood-prone areas should take precautions, forecasters said.

Related: Emergency Personnel Prepare For Flooding, Mountain Snow

"Over time, the soil will have decreasing capacity to absorb rainfall resulting in increasing runoff," according to the weather service. "Flash flooding will also be possible, especially during bursts of heavier rainfall on Friday, Sunday and Monday."

In the mountains and deserts, southwest to west winds of 20 to 35 miles per hour with gusts of 50 mph or higher will ramp up to 25 to 45 mph with gusts topping 65 mph Friday afternoon into Saturday morning, according to the NWS.

A wind advisory for the mountains and deserts will expire at 4 a.m. Friday and a more severe high wind watch for the same areas will extend from late Thursday night though Saturday morning.

Related: Where To Get Sandbags In San Diego

The storms will also lead to problems at the beaches, such as strong rip currents and waves big enough to sweep beachgoers off jetties and rocks. The surf is expected to ramp up to 8 to 12 feet with sets to 16 feet Friday, lower somewhat over the weekend the increase to 8 to 12 feet again on Monday, according to the NWS.

Photo by Beth Accomando

A rain boot in a puddle, Jan. 19, 2017.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Sunshine peeks through the clouds above San Diego State University, Jan. 19, 2017.

A high surf warning will remain in effect from 4 p.m. today through 10 p.m. Tuesday.

"A high surf warning indicates that dangerous, battering (waves) will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents," according to the weather service.

The heaviest precipitation with the first storm will likely be during the morning hours and commuters may be affected. Isolated thunderstorms will also be possible throughout San Diego County.

Forecasters said the downpours would ease up some and become scattered showers during the afternoon and evening.

The next storm system, set to hit Friday, will have the potential for thunderstorms and flash flooding, forecasters said.

"On Friday, the next wave will arrive. This one is wetter and windier and lasts pretty much all day Friday into early Saturday," according to the weather service.

Strong wind gusts capable of downing trees may also be possible Friday, as will snowfall down to as low as 5,000 feet.

The snow level is expected to drop to 4,500 feet Friday night, and wind gusts in the mountains may top 65 miles per hour.

A break between storms is expected Saturday, but the next and possibly strongest in the series of storms will arrive Sunday morning. The snow level is expected to drop to around 4,000 feet Monday, forecasters said.

"A third storm will bring rain Sunday, then turn to snow Sunday night through Monday," according to the weather service. "Strong gusty winds will occur at times as well, along with dense fog."


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