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Public Safety

Lighter than anticipated rainfall on Thursday, stronger storm to arrive Sunday

A Red Cross van is parked outside of the organization's temporary shelter at Lincoln High School. San Diego, Calif. Feb. 1, 2024.
Mike Damron
/
KPBS
A Red Cross van is parked outside of the organization's temporary shelter at Lincoln High School. San Diego, Calif. Feb. 1, 2024.

Go to storm resources ⬇

Following lighter-than-anticipated rains that fell across the area on Thursday, San Diego city officials today lifted a voluntary evacuation warning for low-lying areas of the city, as another stronger storm is expected to arrive Monday.

Both storms come a week after historically heavy downpours left roadways, commercial districts and residential neighborhoods underwater across the region.

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A fast-moving Pacific storm brought more widespread winter rainfall, blustery conditions and concerns about flooding to the San Diego area Thursday. But the system was far less severe than the one that hit last week.

The evacuation warning was issued on Wednesday to residents who live in flood-prone areas in Southcrest, Mountain View, Encanto, San Ysidro, Sorrento Valley and Mission Valley. It was lifted Friday afternoon.

However, Mayor Todd Gloria reminded residents to remain vigilant and prepare for more rain, noting that more precipitation was still possible, and an even stronger storm is anticipated early next week.

"Now is not the time to remove your sandbags," Gloria said.

Diminishing showers are in the forecast for Friday, followed by a respite of mostly dry conditions during the weekend, the NWS advised. Additional rounds of widespread local precipitation are expected early next week, according to meteorologists.

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Emergency call volume decreased from last week's storm, with calls dropping from 1,027 during the previous storm to 390 on Thursday — with the number of emergency calls also declining from 404 to 75, said Bethany Bezak, the city's director of transportation.

A total of 30 locations throughout the city remained closed by city crews due to flooding.

As of late afternoon Thursday, the showers had dropped anywhere from a few hundredths of an inch to nearly 2.75 inches of moisture across the county, according to the National Weather Service.

Among the highest local 24-hour precipitation totals at 1:45 p.m. — by which time there were no reports of serious local flooding — were readings of 2.75 inches at Palomar Observatory; 1.46 in Fallbrook; 1.45 in San Onofre; 1.35 in Bonsall and Deer Springs; 1.34 in Mesa Grande; 1.27 at Rainbow Camp; 1.26 in Escondido; 1.25 in Carlsbad and Encinitas; and 1.22 on Birch Hill.

Officials advised residents in neighborhoods where evacuation warnings were issued 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.

That shelter will remain open through the weekend and into next week. As of Friday morning, around 100 people were checked in at the shelter.

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.

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.

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.

"Last week was a once in a thousand years storm, today was a once in 10 years storm. The call volume was very manageable."
San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell

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.

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.

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.

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