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Heavy rain arrives, worst of storm for San Diego Monday night through Tuesday

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in eight counties in the state Sunday, including San Diego County. KPBS reporter John Carroll says the city and county are working together to make sure residents affected by floodwaters have what they need.

Go to storm resources ⬇

The latest in a series of powerful Southern California winter storms brought more rain and potential for destructive flooding and mountain snow Monday to the already saturated San Diego area.

The storm, which moved over the county on Sunday, delivered widespread heavy showers, though the local downpours — and resulting mudslides and runoff-submerged roadways — were not as serious as those in Orange and Los Angeles counties, according to the National Weather Service.


Due to the predicted severity of the storm, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in eight counties, including the San Diego region, over the weekend. The proclamation includes provisions authorizing a California National Guard response if needed, facilitating unemployment benefits for impacted residents and making it easier for out-of-state contractors and utilities to repair storm damage.

The other counties included were Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Over a 24-hour period ending late Monday morning, the dark bands of clouds had dropped anywhere from a hundredth of an inch to 2 2/3 inches across the coastal, inland-valley and mountain communities of San Diego County, the weather service reported.

Among the precipitation tallies were 2.67 inches in San Onofre; 1.59 at Palomar Observatory; 1.49 in Fallbrook; 1.04 in Oceanside; 0.72 at Rainbow Camp; 0.71 in Bonsall; 0.58 on Birch Hill; 0.51 in Carlsbad; 0.37 in Deer Springs and San Marcos; 0.33 at Lake Wohlford; 0.32 in Encinitas, 0.3 in Escondido and Valley Center; 0.14 in Oak Grove; 0.16 in Rincon Springs; 0.11 at Henshaw Dam; 0.05 in Rancho Bernardo; 0.02 in Mesa Grande; and 0.01 in Julian. No rainfall was recorded in the local deserts over the period, according to the NWS.

The showers led to scattered San Diego-area road closures Monday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol, including on state Route 78 at Cloverdale Road in the San Pasqual area, due to a sinkhole; on SR-78 at Emerald Drive in Vista, for flooding; and in the 5400 block of Olive Hill Road in Bonsall, where a tree fell across traffic lanes.


An undated graphic from the National Weather Service shows the forecast for this week's storm.
National Weather Service San Diego
An undated graphic from the National Weather Service shows the forecast for this week's storm.

An NWS flood watch will be in effect until 10 a.m. Wednesday for the city of San Diego as well as the communities of Borrego Springs, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Julian, La Mesa, National City, Oceanside, Pine Valley, Poway, San Marcos, Santee and Vista. Excessive runoff could result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying locations, meteorologists advised.

Forecasters also warned of the likelihood that strong winds — from 15 to 25 mph and gusts up to 35 mph in some places — could blow away unsecured outdoor objects, snap off tree limbs and cause power outages.

Additionally, a high-surf advisory was slated to be in effect until 10 p.m. Monday, with ocean breakers from 6 to 8 feet high and sets up to 10 feet, along with a small-craft advisory from San Mateo Point to the Mexican border.

South to southeast winds will increase in intensity over the day Monday, with gusts from 25 to 30 knots, the weather service advised. The high- surf conditions are expected to decrease overnight and Tuesday.

Safety tips for driving during storms

— Avoid driving through deep water;
— Avoid oversteering or stomping on the brakes if you start to hydroplane or skid;
— Avoid texting or using a hand-held cell phone when driving;
— Slow down to avoid getting into an accident;
— Turn on your headlights to see better;
— Try to drive toward the middle lanes as water tends to gather in outside lanes;
— Defog your windows for better visibility;
— Never drive through a flooded roadway;
— Give the cars in front of you extra distance;
— Watch out for public works crews and equipment.

Source: San Diego County Office of Emergency Services and Department of Public Works

Partly cloudy and rainy conditions are expected in the mountains until mid-week, with highs in the low 50s. Cloudy and wet conditions are expected in the deserts all week, with highs reaching the upper 50s and low 60s, according to the National Weather Service.

Along the coast, partly cloudy and heavy wet conditions are expected this week, with daytime temperatures hitting the low 60s. Inland valley areas are expected to be hit with showers through Friday, with highs reaching the mid- 50s to low 60s.

San Diego Gas & Electric has increased the number of field crews and equipment available "to restore power as quickly and safely as possible should power outages occur," a statement from the utility company read.

Call 9-1-1 and SDG&E at 800-411-7343 to report downed power lines.

Due to potential harsh weather conditions, an emergency shelter at 2111 Pan American Plaza is open to the public and can be reached at 619-525- 8262. Services at the shelter will include places for displaced people to stay, meals, snacks, crisis counseling, help replacing medication and pet support from the San Diego Humane Society.

Alert San Diego has provided residents with all other information regarding flooding and can be found at the following links:

Flood preparation information

Emergency information

Recovery information including cleanup, medicine and additional helpful resources

Residents can also text HELP to 98266 to get safety information.

The United Taxi Workers of San Diego is helping impacted residents get to the temporary shelter at no charge. To schedule a ride customers can call 619-280-4444 or use the "Ride United" passenger application. Residents seeking services should provide a pick-up location and select "Balboa Park Municipal Gym" or "Mountain View Community Recreation Center" as their drop- off location, county officials said.

A temporary homeless shelter has been set up at the Balboa Park Activity Center at 16th Street and Newton Bridge Shelter.

The Department of Public Works is picking up flood-damaged debris and items from homes in the unincorporated communities. Pickup in unincorporated areas can be reached at 858-495-5700. Additional storm recovery resources can be reached by dialing 211.

The county advised against putting debris near curbs during rainy weather, where it can wash away and cause a hazard.

This week's storm comes after a spate of historically heavy downpours that left roadways, commercial districts and residential neighborhoods underwater across the region two weeks ago. The wettest day, Jan. 22, delivered the highest 24-hour rainfall amounts in San Diego since 1850, according to the NWS.

The inundation, which washed away many a parked car and heavily damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes, prompted the city and county of San Diego, along with Newsom, to declare states of emergency.

Since then, authorities have been taking steps, including monitoring tens of thousands of storm drains, to prevent more storm-driven destruction, Gloria said during a recent news briefing. He urged those who live or work in flood-prone areas to remain proactively vigilant as well.

"Now is not the time to remove your sandbags," the mayor said. "We can't predict Mother Nature. She's unpredictable."

The city and the San Diego Housing Commission have opened a new 50- room shelter at a former hotel site in the Midway district to provide a refuge from those impact the recent storms.

"Providing shelter and support for our neighbors whose lives were upended by the storm is a top priority," City Council President Sean Elo- Rivera said. "These creative options were possible through collaboration between the city, county, the Housing Commission and state of California. The road ahead of us is long, but this quick and meaningful action shows that we can create creative housing solutions when we all work together."

The county's Assessor's Office, Public Health, Behavioral Health, Public Works and Department of Environmental Health and Quality will be at the City Assistance Center to provide services to those impacted by the storms.

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.