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Winter Storm Warning In Effect As Heavy Rain Drenches San Diego

People building a snowman at the side of the road on Sunrise Highway, Dec. 26...

Photo by Shalina Chatlani

Above: People building a snowman at the side of the road on Sunrise Highway, Dec. 26, 2019.

UPDATE: 4:15 p.m., Dec. 26, 2019:

The second winter storm that rolled through San Diego Christmas night and Thursday morning brought rainfall and several feet of snow to the mountains.

Steady rain showers are expected throughout the day in San Diego County Thursday and more snow could fall in the mountains, potentially making driving difficult.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that will be in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday in the county mountains.

Interstate 8, state Routes 78 and 79 were closed for a time Thursday morning, stranding holiday travelers as snowplows clear the roads.

"We’re supposed to be on a plane to New York tomorrow so we’ll see," Bob Brooks of Arizona said. "(Feeling) a little anxious but we're good. We're safe."

Reported by Shalina Chatlani , Video by Mike Damron

https://youtu.be/LEWaiVSz0QU

Snow levels dropped to around 3,500 feet by Thursday afternoon.

Between 4 and 8 inches of snow is expected to fall above 4,000 feet and mountain areas above 5,000 feet could get between 10 and 16 inches of snow, forecasters said.

Roads reopened shortly after noon and San Diegans took advantage of the winter wonderland, such as 13-year-old Ryan Marchal, who said he was excited because he doesn't see snow that often.

"Yeah, this is pretty awesome," he said.

The California Highway Patrol warns that heavy snowfall could limit visibility and cause tree branches to fall. The agency issued a winter weather condition warning for the mountain areas until 6 p.m. Thursday.

NWS officials advised that travelers driving in the mountains should keep extra flashlights, food and water in the vehicle in case of an emergency.

The NWS issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for coastal and inland valley areas, including San Diego, Escondido, El Cajon and Chula Vista, though the advisory expired mid-morning.

Rainfall caused water levels in the San Diego River near Fashion Valley to rise above 10 feet around 10 a.m., the highest point it has reached this year, according to the NWS.

By late afternoon, Oceanside and Escondido received the most rain over the past 24 hours at 1.63 inches. Other notable rain totals include 1.61 inches in San Onofre, 1.47 inches in Skyline Ranch, 1.45 inches in Deer Springs, 1.43 inches in Mission Beach, 1.41 inches in Lemon Grove and 1.41 inches in Santee.

More flooding will be possible until conditions dry up by Friday morning.

While the wet conditions are expected to let up this weekend, another storm is on track to reach San Diego County on Monday and could bring light precipitation through Tuesday, forecasters said.

The NWS predicted as much as 10 inches of snow in San Diego County mountain areas at and above 6,000 feet during next week's storm.

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