Powerful Winter Storm Arrives in San Diego

The rain was expected to return during the evening commute.

A powerful winter storm moved ashore early Tuesday dumping a large amount of rain across San Diego County before noon.  The rain was expected to return during the evening commute. 

Most of the precipitation fell between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. In fact, downtown San Diego recorded more than an inch of rain overnight.

As of noon, Ramona, Oceanside, and Bonsall reported more than two inches of rain. Poway, Julian, and Rancho Bernardo received more than 1.5 inches of rain and Encinitas, Potrero, Santee and La Mesa all had gotten more than an inch of rain.

Tuesday afternoon, businesses along Mission Boulevard in Mission Beach said they experienced flooding. A yoga studio said it was like it was, "raining from the inside." 

"I came in to water pouring from the ceiling in a couple different spots," said Brad Kravitz, owner of Dragons Den Smoke Shop. 

Kravitz added luckily most of his merchandise made it out safely. 

Residents in Ramona spent afternoon free time filling up sandbags at their local fire station in preparation for heavy rain. Meanwhile, county crews were out in trucks and tractors clearing roads and cleaning up debris, including a small mudslide that partially blocked Mussey Grade Road.

Rob Lafuze of Star Construction and Cabinets was among those taking advantage of the free sandbags. Water rushed into his shop during heavy rains last February, leaving behind a thick floor of mud of soot.

"Hopefully we don't need [the sandbags]," Lafuze said. "But now we'll have them available for the rest of the winter when the rest of the storms do come through."

One Encinitas homeowner said that he, like many others, was expecting the heavy rain, but didn't expect it to force water inside his home overnight.

"Basically, I woke up and my bed was wet," he said as he laughed at his choice of words. "So, that's how my day started."

The National Weather Service issued an Areal Flood Advisory for Chula Vista, Carlsbad, El Cajon, Encinitas, National City, La Mesa, Poway and some neighborhoods within San Diego city limits, including North Park, Point Loma, Hillcrest, the Midway District, Downtown and Lindbergh Field. The Advisory is set to expire at 10 p.m.

The NWS also issued an airport weather warning for wind gusts of 30 knots or greater. 

A high wind warning was also in effect through 10 p.m. for the mountains east of San Diego as well as the communities of Julian, Pine Valley and Borrego Springs. 

Winds were expected to reach 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph early in the day with stronger winds expected to develop by afternoon and early evening.

Travel may be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles.

The National Weather Service also said a high surf advisory will be in effect from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. Wednesday, bringing surf from 4 to 7 feet with sets up to 12 feet. The highest surf will be in San Diego County, peaking Wednesday morning, and will be accompanied by strong rip currents and dangerous swimming conditions.

Meanwhile, SeaWorld San Diego said Tuesday it would shut down for the day due to the heavy rain and strong winds. The amusement park expects to reopen Wednesday, a spokesperson said.

The Department of Environmental Health issued a general advisory Tuesday morning warning of urban runoff at San Diego County beaches due to the rainfall. The advisory for the coastal waters of the county urged swimmers and surfers to keep in mind that bacteria can rise significantly in ocean and bay waters, especially near storm drains, creeks, rivers and lagoon outlets that discharge urban runoff.

This runoff could contain bacteria from animal waste, soil and decomposing vegetation. The department said activities like swimming, surfing and diving should be avoided in all coastal waters for 72 hours following rain.

"We're out here to check out the waves and look at the ocean," said Patrick Dulin, a tourist from Alaska vacationing in Ocean Beach Tuesday. 

The department also issued a water contact closure for the shoreline at Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park due to sewage-contaminated flows from the Tijuana River entering the United States. This closure includes the beach-line area from the south end of Seacoast Drive to the International Border.

Over in National City, gusty winds toppled the community's iconic, vertical "BAY" sign at the former site of the Bay Theatre on National City Boulevard. Officials shut down traffic on southbound National City Boulevard to Third Avenue while crews worked to secure the building and clean up the collapsed sign. No one was hurt.

With the rainpour came slick roads and dangerous conditions on county highways.

The California Highway Patrol said that officers responded to 410 separate traffic collisions on county freeways and streets in unincorporated areas of the county between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Of the 410 collisions, 133 occurred between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5:59 a.m., 44 happened between 6 and 7:59 a.m., 78 took place between 8 and 9:59 a.m., 56 between 10 and 11:59 a.m., 18 between 12 and 1:59 p.m., 35 between 2 and 3:59 p.m., and 46 between 4 and 5:59 p.m.

The CHP said that officers respond to approximately 140 crashes on a typical "good weather" day.

The agency did not release any data related to deaths or injuries associated with Tuesday's traffic collisions.

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