Strong storm whips through San Diego

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Another round of thunderstorms and wind from the powerful Pacific storm that already dropped more than five inches of rain on parts of San Diego County and wreaked havoc on area roadways is expected to hit the San Diego County coastline this afternoon, forecasters said.

At 4 p.m., National Weather Service Doppler radar spotted a line of strong thunderstorms 28 nautical miles west of the San Diego coast that was moving east at 20 knots.

The NWS issued a special marine warning to extend to 5:30 p.m. for the coastal waters including those off Coronado, La Jolla and Point Loma.

Brief heavy rain, hail, lightning and gusty wind are possible through 5:30 p.m. as the storm moves toward the beaches, according to the weather service.

Forecasters said mariners could expect gusty winds, high waves, lightning and heavy rain. Boaters were advised to seek safe harbor until the storm passes.

The storm is expected to weaken tonight, but showers could trail across the area throughout the rest of the weekend.

Roadway flooding was reported on northbound Interstate 5 at Sea World Drive, in the southbound lanes near state Route 163, on southbound Interstate 15 at the Citracado Parkway off-ramp and on northbound state Route 163 near the eastbound Friars Road exit, according to the CHP.

Huffstatler Road near Chico in Rainbow was closed due to flooding, as was Sandia Creek Crossing in Fallbrook, the county Department of Public Works reported.

Over a two-day period ending at 2:10 p.m., the National Weather Service recorded 7.56 inches of rain at Palomar Mountain; 4.51 in Oak Grove; 4.44 in Julian; 3.82 on Mount Laguna; 3.1 in Ramona; 3.08 in Descanso; 3 inches in Santa Ysabel; 2.95 in Valley Center; 2.67 in Alpine; 2.19 in Fallbrook; 1.95 in Escondido; 1.91 in Potrero; 1.59 in Ranchita; 1.52 in Campo; 1.5 in San Marcos; 1.48 in Santee; 1.47 in Poway; and 1.43 in Rancho Bernardo.

Less than an inch fell over the same period of time in El Cajon. La Mesa, San Felipe, Agua Caliente Canebrake and Ocotillo Wells.

Along the coast, 1.82 inches of rain fell in Vista; 1.59 at Brown Field; 1.44 at the Carlsbad Airport; 1.36 at the Oceanside Airport; 1.33 at Miramar; 1.20 at Montgomery Field; 1.08 at Lindbergh Field; 1.05 in Chula Vista; .93 in Del Mar; and .76 in National City.

The showers also brought some rainy-day pile-ups on local roadways.

From just after midnight to 2 p.m. today, the California Highway Patrol logged 212 crashes on freeways and in unincorporated areas in San Diego County and Temecula. CHP officials reported 514 accidents between 12:01 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday.

On a fair weather day, the CHP on average handles 50-75 crashes.

NWS forecasters said locally heavy rainfall and thunderstorms are expected through this evening along the coast, in the valleys and in mountain areas below 6,000 feet, but should lighten late tonight. Additional rainfall of up to 4 inches in the mountains and 1 inch near the coast is possible.

Large swells, dangerous surf of up to 15 feet and strong rip currents along San Diego County's beaches were also expected. Forecasters said the surf combined with high tides, wind and rainfall runoff would likely result in widespread, but minor coastal flooding that could cause property and structural damage.

Coastal residents should be on the lookout for rising water, and should take action to protect life and property, a NWS statement said.

A NWS coastal flood warning will remain in effect until 1 a.m. Sunday and a high surf advisory is set to expire at 4 a.m. Monday.

In San Diego County's valleys and mountains, downpours soaking newly saturated soil will continue to raise the risk of flash flooding through tonight, the weather service said. A flash flood watch is in effect through late tonight. Coastal mountain slopes near and downstream from recently burned areas and low-lying areas with poor drainage are especially vulnerable to flash flooding, according to the NWS. A wind advisory will expire at 6 p.m. for the mountains and deserts, where areas of south to southwest winds of 20-30 mph were possible along with gusts of up to 45 mph.

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