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Winter storm brings heavy rain, flooding To San Diego area

A chilly winter storm that arrived in the San Diego area over the weekend delivered more steady downpours Monday along with widespread flooding that swamped roadways and neighborhoods across the region.

“We're seeing almost 25% or a quarter of our annual rainfall in one day,” said National Weather Service’s Alex Tardy.


In the late morning, with rainfall rates approaching a half-inch per hour, the National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for the western valleys and the ocean coastline of the county, effective through midday.

The city of San Diego declared a state of emergency Monday and activated the city's Emergency Response Center.

The American Red Cross established an evacuation center at Lincoln High School for residents displaced by flooding.

As of 3 p.m., according to the NWS, the top local three-day precipitation totals included 4.51 inches on Otay Mountain, 4.49 in Point Loma, 4.21 in National City, 4.01 in the Palomar area, 3.89 in La Mesa, 3.4 in Fallbrook, 3.39 on Birch Hill and 3.38 on Dulzura Summit.

Over the day, crews with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department performed about 25 rescues in the San Diego and Tijuana River valleys, along with vehicle rescues in various neighborhoods, according to the city agency. They also used inflatable boats and rescue boards to help hundreds of residents escape badly flooded homes along Beta Street and surrounding roads in Southcrest, according to SDFRD public affairs.


In addition, firefighters and U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued a group of migrants who had entered the country illegally and gotten trapped in floodwaters in San Ysidro, the federal agency reported.

Most other locales in the county received from 1 to 3.5 inches of moisture over the period, meteorologists reported.

“We saw the heaviest rain extended from around downtown San Diego, Point Loma and then all the way towards about Spring Valley. And in that band we there was roughly about 2.5 to 4 inches of rain,” said Tyler Rodenbaugh, senior meteorologist with the San Diego County Flood Control District.

He said the storm created serious flood risk across parts of the county and the amount of rainfall in Spring Valley was so intense it registered as a once in a thousand year or more event for that area.

While the downpour brought some benefits in terms of needed rainfall, it also caused a lot of damage.

“It doesn't matter where you are in the country, if you get two inches of rain in a few hours in an urban area, you’re going to have urban flooding,” Tardy said.

Laila Aziz caught video of some of that flooding on her smartphone.

“Akins is totally flooded. Look at this!” she told viewers as she shared the video on Facebook Live.

The street was rushing at one point, like a small river.

“So in the Logan Park area, the Encanto area, the Southcrest area were really hit hard,” Aziz said.

She is program director of Pillars of the Community, an advocacy organization based out of San Diego's Encanto neighborhood, which was impacted by some of the worst flooding from the storm.

“I've never seen Akins (Ave) flood like that. I've seen it flood but the amount of water, how strong the water was — it was frightening,” Aziz said.

Roads were closed for cars and public transit, homes were damaged and some cars were swept away.

“Now we have people who are working class people that don't have automobiles, their homes are flooded. We have people that are not going to have housing,” Aziz said.

As of mid-afternoon, more than two dozen power outages had hit communities from the South Bay to the North County, at least some of them related to the inclement weather, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. In Lincoln Park, Logan Heights and Mountain View, blackouts left more than 9,000 addresses without electrical service in the late morning and early afternoon.

Due to potential storm-related utility problems, SDG&E issued a statement Monday morning urging the public to stay away from any downed or otherwise damaged power lines they might encounter. People should always assume that such compromised transmission equipment is energized and call 911 to report the hazard, the utility advised.

There has been flooding at multiple homeless shelters in the city of San Diego. That includes the 325 bed bridge shelter ran by Alpha Project at 16th street and Newton Avenue. A temporary shelter has been opened at the Balboa Park Activity Center.

Due to the flooding, Alpha Project is asking for donations of blankets, jackets, socks, warm clothing and plastic ponchos. They can be dropped off at Alpha Square from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Their address is 550 14th Street in San Diego.

The showers were expected to continue through the afternoon before diminishing in the late evening and petering out completely from north to south on Tuesday, according to meteorologists. Thereafter, local temperatures should remain cool through Thursday, then warm up Friday and Sunday as high pressure aloft strengthens along the West Coast, the weather service reported.

Trolley service is limited until 11:30 p.m. Monday night.

  • Blue Line: There is service from UTC to San Ysidro, every 45 minutes.
  • Green Line: There is service from 12th & Imperial to the Alvarado Station in both directions.
  • Orange Line: There is service from the Lemon Grove Station to Amaya. No service from Amaya to Arnele.

There will be a "Bus Bridge" from 12th & Imperial to Lemon Grove.

During the morning and afternoon on Monday, the driving rains inundated streets, freeways and back roads across the region, in some cases necessitating rescues of people trapped in inundated vehicles, according to the California Highway Patrol. Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., the CHP reported the following traffic disruptions in the San Diego area:

  • Trees and rocks in the roadway at Jamul Heights Drive and Steele Canyon Road, Jamul;
  • Flooding, 12100 block of Cuyamaca College Drive and at Fury Lane and Wieghorst Way, Rancho San Diego;
  • Mudslide, eastbound Barrett School Road, Barrett Junction;
  • Landslide, transition ramp from eastbound state Route 905 to northbound Interstate 805, Otay Mesa;
  • Flooding, Jamacha Boulevard and Whitestone Road, and SR-125 at Jamacha and Paradise Valley roads, Spring Valley;
  • Flooding, Kempton and Outinda streets, La Presa;
  • Flooding, SR-15 at Interstate 5, Southcrest;
  • Flooding, westbound Interstate 8 at College Avenue and Waring Road, Del Cerro;
  • Flooding, northbound I-5 at 28th and 32nd streets, Logan Heights;
  • Flooding, Carmel Valley Road and Winesprings Drive, 4S Ranch;
  • Flooding, 9000 block of Harmony Grove Road, Elfin Forest;
  • Flooding, westbound SR-94 at I-805, Mount Hope;
  • Flooding, southbound I-805 near Imperial Avenue, Mountain View;
  • Flooding, southbound I-5 near Via de la Valle, Del Mar;
  • Mudslide, offramp from northbound I-805 to Imperial Avenue, Lincoln Park;
  • Flooding, offramp from southbound SR-163 to Ash Street, East Village;
  • Flooding, Palomar Airport Road onramp to northbound I-5, Carlsbad;
  • Flooding, northbound I-805 at East Palomar Street, Chula Vista;
  • Flooding, westbound SR-94 at College Avenue, Oak Park;
  • Flooding, northbound I-5 at Pershing Drive, Balboa Park;
  • Mudslide, Lyons Valley Road at Skyline Truck Trail, Jamul;
  • Mudslide, 9500 block of Date Street, Spring Valley;
  • Flooding, I-805 at SR-94, Fairmount Park; and
  • Mud and rocks in the roadway, southbound I-5 at Balboa Avenue, Pacific Beach.

Storm safety tips

  • Stay informed. Monitor television and radio for flood watches or warnings.
  • Keep your gas tank full in case of evacuation or power outages.
  • Use sandbags to divert water.
  • Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If you see a downed power line, call 911 and (800) 411-SDGE to report it. If someone has come in contact with electrical equipment, don't touch them.
  • Keep a written list of emergency contacts.
  • Make a plan in case of an emergency. Speak with family, friends and/or neighbors who can help ahead of time. If you rely on electrically operated medical equipment, make a plan for backup power.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, leave the area. Call 911 or SDG&E at (800) 611-7343.
  • Secure outdoor items to prevent them from flying away.
  • Gather supplies such as food, water and a flashlight to last at least three to five days.
  • Call 211 for information including on disaster resources available 24 hours a day in over 200 languages.

Sources: Ready.govCounty of San Diego Office of Emergency Services211 San DiegoSDG&E.

San Diego's inclement shelters

It's recommended to call shelters ahead of time to make sure they're open.

Living Water Church of the Nazarene

  • 1550 Market St.
  • Up to 28 adults
  • Check-in: 8 p.m.-10 p.m. or until full
  • Checkout: 6:30 a.m.

People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) Interim Shelter

  • 1250 6th Ave.
  • Up to 20 adults
  • Check-in: 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Checkout: 7 a.m.

San Diego Rescue Mission

  • 120 Elm St.
  • Up to 10 single women
  • Check-in: From 5:30 p.m. and throughout the night until full
  • Checkout: 7 a.m.

Father Joe’s Villages Shelter

  • 1501 Imperial Ave.
  • Up to 123 adults, with an additional 11 beds for families with minor children and/or single women
  • Check-in: From 4 p.m. and throughout the night until full
  • Checkout: 5 a.m.

More information on San Diego’s inclement weather shelters can be found on the city’s website. Anyone needing assistance can call the 2-1-1 hotline to speak with an outreach team member.

See NWS San Diego's Twitter profile for the latest updates.

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