Strong winter storm soaks San Diego area
A blustery late-autumn storm drenched the San Diego area with heavy, wind-whipped downpours Tuesday, delivering the first significant local rainfall in months amid flooded roadways and widespread power outages.
The cloudbursts began soaking the county several hours before daybreak, starting in its northern reaches and moving rapidly south, according to the National Weather Service.
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As of midday, the showers had dropped anywhere from a few hundredths of an inch to more than two inches of moisture across the region, the federal agency reported.
As the gusty winds howled through the county, power outages left thousands of San Diego Gas & Electric customers without electrical service, the utility company reported.
A predawn blackout struck San Diego coastal communities, including Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Point Loma, the Midway district and Lindbergh Field, leaving 3,700 addresses in the dark.
In the late morning, a spate of outages left about 10,800 homes and businesses without electrical service across northern San Diego County, according to SDG&E. Affected communities included Bear Valley, Carlsbad, Daley Ranch, the Dixon Lake area, Escondido, Harmony Grove, La Costa, the Lake Hodges area, the Lake Wohlford area, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos and Skyline Ranch.
As of 11:30 a.m., according to the NWS, the bands of dark clouds had dropped 2.09 inches of precipitation at Palomar Observatory; 1.09 at Henshaw Dam; 0.99 at Rainbow Camp, just south of the Riverside County line; 0.81 in Skyline Ranch; 0.79 on Birch Hill; 0.57 in Valley Center; 0.56 in Deer Springs and Escondido; 0.53 at Lake Wohlford; 0.48 in Valley Center; 0.47 in Fallbrook; 0.46 in Encinitas; 0.43 in Carlsbad; 0.26 in Mission Valley; 0.22 in Kearny Mesa; 0.28 in Ramona; 0.24 in Elfin Forest and Flinn Springs; 0.2 in Point Loma and Poway; 0.12 in San Ysidro; 0.09 in Lemon Grove; 0.08 in El Cajon; 0.07 in Alpine; 0.05 in National City; and 0.04 at Coyote Creek.
The storm brought the first measurable rain to the county since October, when the region experienced some mild showers, weather service meteorologist Phil Gonsalves said.
The drenched roadways across the region led to a spate of traffic headaches for commuters, including a flooded stretch of freeway on state Route 94 near College Grove Drive in the Oak Park district of San Diego, shortly before 1 p.m.; large tumbleweeds in traffic lanes on state Route 905 near Interstate 805 in Otay Mesa during the noon hour; a downed tree across De Luz Road at Green Valley Road in Fallbrook, shortly before 12:30 p.m.; and an errant traffic sign on the roadway on northbound I-5, north of Carlsbad Village Drive in Carlsbad in the early afternoon, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Most of the widespread precipitation was expected to fall through the mid-afternoon, then taper off from northwest to southeast into the early evening and dwindle out completely by midnight, the NWS advised.
Light rain will be a possibility in the county late Thursday into Friday, with dry and slightly warmer conditions expected to prevail through the weekend, forecasters advised.