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Public Safety

Blustery winter storm brings more heavy rains to San Diego Area

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A fast-moving Pacific storm brought more widespread winter rainfall, blustery conditions and concerns about flooding Thursday to the San Diego area, 10 days after historically heavy downpours left roadways, commercial districts and residential neighborhoods underwater across the region.

As of late Thursday morning, the steady showers had dropped anywhere from a few hundredths of an inch to nearly 1 1/3 inches of moisture across the county, according to the National Weather Service.

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Among the highest 12-hour precipitation totals at 11 a.m. — by which time there were no reports of serious local flooding — were readings of 1.29 inches in San Onofre, 1.17 in Fallbrook and 1.05 on Palomar Mountain, the NWS advised.

NWS issued a Flood Advisory lasting until 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Some areas at risk for flooding include the city of San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon, National City, La Mesa, Poway, Imperial Beach, Ramona, Coronado and Alpine.

It issued a Flash Flood Warning Thursday morning for the following North County areas: Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas, Del Mar, Fallbrook, Valley Center, Camp Pendleton, Escondido and San Marcos.

See below for a detailed map of flood risk areas.

Editor's note: To view flood plains enable the "flood plain" layer in the "Ecology" menu.

The potential for more out-of-control urban storm runoff prompted the city of San Diego to issue an evacuation warning for areas that received the brunt of the destructive inundation last week, including Encanto, Mission Valley, Mountain View, San Ysidro, Sorrento Valley and Southcrest.

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Flooding is seen in the alley of Europa Street in Encinitas, Calif. Feb. 1, 2024.
Carolyne Corelis
/
KPBS
Flooding is seen in the alley of Europa Street in Encinitas, Calif. Feb. 1, 2024.

Officials advised residents in those neighborhoods to come up with a plan to relocate if possible. The city also opened a shelter for evacuees at Municipal Gym on Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park, with transportation to the facility available for those who need it and Humane Society personnel onsite to provide pet-sheltering services.

For those that need transportation to the shelter, the city said it's teaming up with United Taxi Workers of San Diego to help. Those that need a ride to the temporary shelter can call (619) 280-4444 or use the Ride United (Passenger) app. Provide your pick-up location and set the Balboa Park Municipal Gym as the drop off location.

SDUSD is also providing transportation services Thursday and Friday. Pick up times are at 9:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Encanto Recreation Center, 6508 Wunderlin Ave.
  • Mountainview/Beckwourth Library, 721 San Pascual St.
  • College-Rolando Library, 6600 Montezuma Rd.

Should an evacuation order go into effect, police will go door-to-door to inform residents, according to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. Additionally, the city Fire-Rescue Department planned to deploy extra swift-water-rescue teams, and municipal crews were tasked with monitoring some 46,000 storm drains in anticipation of any flooding problems, the mayor said.

The city also requested that residents help mitigate storm impacts by sweeping debris that might collect around storms drains and gutters and placing their trash bins away from curbs.

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.

Sandbags may be picked up at 11 recreation centers throughout the city. A full listing of the locations and other storm-related resources can be found at sandiego.gov/storm.

In addition to the likelihood of flooding, the storm was expected to generate winds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts up to 45 mph across the inland valleys, along with heavy ocean surf featuring breakers of 6 to 10 feet, according to the weather service.

San Diego Gas & Electric reminded the public to always stay far away from any power lines that might be downed by the stormy conditions and avoid touching anyone who comes into contact with one. Also, occupants of any vehicle that comes into contact with an electrical-transmission cable should remain inside for safety's sake until emergency crews can deactivate the damaged utility equipment, SDG&E noted.

County officials, for their part, advised residents of unincorporated communities to stay home if they could.

"If you live in a flood-prone area, take necessary precautions, protect your family and property (and) have a plan and a go-kit so you are ready," Emergency Services Director Jeff Toney said.

County officials additionally offered the following tips:

  • Avoid walking, swimming or driving through flood waters.
  • Monitor the weather and news to stay informed of the latest developments.
  • Register your cell phone at https://www.alertsandiego.org/en- us/preparedness/alertsandiego.html to receive alerts and updates on storm conditions.
  • Evacuate immediately if told to evacuate or if you feel unsafe. Groups should discuss where to reunite if separated since phone service might not be reliable. If evacuated, disconnect all electrical appliances, turn off electricity at the panel, gas service at the meter, and water at the main valve.
  • Get to the highest level of a building if trapped. Only get on the roof if necessary and once there signal for help. Do not climb into a closed attic to avoid getting trapped by rising floodwater.
  • Make plans for different times of the day to account for when family members are at work, school, or other obligations.
  • Contact your health care provider if you are sick and need medical attention. Wait for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

The new wave of inclement wintry weather arrived as the San Diego area struggles to recover from a storm that arrived Jan. 20 and generated three days of intense rainfall that wreaked heavy flooding damage in many areas.

Last week, the city and county of San Diego, along with Gov. Gavin Newsom, declared states of emergency due to the disastrously heavy precipitation, which destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes. Much of the most acute destruction occurred in southeastern San Diego, notably the communities of Encanto, Logan Heights, Mountain View and Southcrest.

The wettest day during the storm, Jan. 22, was the fourth-wettest in San Diego since 1850, according to the weather service.

Following a respite of mostly dry conditions over the weekend, additional rounds of widespread precipitation are expected to begin in the region early next week, according to meteorologists.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.