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Severe Thunderstorm Topples Trees, Floods Roadways

Cars drive through flooding at College and University avenues, Jan. 20, 2017.

Photo by Claire Trageser

Above: Cars drive through flooding at College and University avenues, Jan. 20, 2017.

A severe thunderstorm warning expired Friday afternoon, but flooding could continue through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency also warned those in the North County to move to higher ground, as a flash flood warning was in effect until 9:00 p.m. Friday. Forecasters said rain was falling at a rate of a half inch to three-quarters of an inch per hour.

A video shows rain and wind at San Diego State University, Jan. 20, 2017.

The saturated ground caused trees to topple throughout the county. Four Chula Vista Middle School students are reported to have suffered minor injuries when a wind-whipped, rain-soaked tree fell on them at the South Bay campus, authorities said.

The youngsters were sitting in an open area at the intermediary school in the 400 block of Fifth Avenue when the weather-related accident occurred shortly after 1:30 p.m., according to the Chula Vista Fire Department. Medics took the students, whose names and ages were withheld, to a hospital for evaluation of what appeared to be superficial injuries, CVFD Battalion Chief Sean Lowery said. The roughly 30-foot-tall tree caused no structural damage, Lowery said.

Photo caption:

Photo by Susan Murphy

Two eucalyptus trees smashed five cars at UCSD this morning due to overly saturated ground, Jan. 20, 2017.

Earlier, two trees fell at UC San Diego. No injuries were reported, but the trees damaged five cars.

Parks throughout the region were scheduled to be closed through the weekend. The list includes Annie's Canyon and La Orilla Trails at San Elijo Lagoon, Del Dios Highlands Preserve, El Capitan County Preserve, Los Penasquitos Canyon County Preserve, Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch and all Chula Vista city parks.

The storms prompted the weather service to issue a slew of warnings and advisories for various parts of the county.

A winter storm warning for the mountains will remain in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday. Elevations as low as 5,000 feet may see 5 to 10 inches of snow, 1 to 2 feet could fall in areas from 5,500 to 6,000 feet and 18 inches to 2 feet of snow could blanket higher peaks, according to the weather service.

Rainfall amounts expected Friday include 1.18 inches in San Diego; 1.42 in the Miramar area; 1.46 in Oceanside; 1.78 in Borrego Springs; 2.09 in Escondido; 2.15 in Ramona; 2.28 in Alpine; 4.46 in Julian; 4.62 on Mount Laguna; and 5.24 on Palomar Mountain, according to the weather service.

A high wind warning urging desert dwellers to prepare for sustained wind speeds of 25 to 45 miles per hour winds with gusts that could top 65 mph will remain in effect until 10 p.m. Saturday. A similar warning calling for winds of 15 to 30 mph with gusts of 45 to 60 mph along the coast and in the valleys will extend until 10 p.m Friday.

Forecasters said the winds may be strong enough to cause structural damage, topple trees or power lines, blow debris onto roadways and make for hazardous driving conditions.

The county is urging home and business owners to report damage so officials can determine whether the region is eligible for emergency aid.

The storms will also lead to problems at the beaches, such as lightning, strong rip currents and waves big enough to sweep beachgoers off jetties and rocks or damage piers. Surf of 8 to 12 feet with sets to 16 feet is expected through Saturday.

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

A break between storms is expected Saturday afternoon and night, but the next and possibly strongest in the series of storms will arrive Sunday.

Forecasters said the third storm would bring rain to most areas and snow only on the highest mountain during the day Sunday. The snow level is expected to fall to as low as 4,000 feet Monday.

The precipitation is expected to continue Monday and may linger into Tuesday. Fair weather should return by midweek.

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