San Diego

Record-Breaking Rain Leaves Path of Destruction in San Diego County

The above-average rainfall was due in part to a subtropical jet stream that pulls tropical moisture into the region. When combined with the storm system, it creates an atmospheric river.

While a winter storm that overwhelmed the region with a record-breaking rainfall has moved away from San Diego County, the remnants were still being felt Friday. 

Residents woke up to downed trees in their neighborhoods -- and in some cases on their homes -- and were met with flooded roadways on their morning commutes Friday despite heavy rainfall coming to an end at about 6 p.m. on Thursday. 

A tree dozens of feet tall came crashing through an Escondido home early Friday where a pregnant woman and her husband were asleep in bed. 

In Valley Center, an overnight mudslide closed both directions of Valley Center Road at Lake Wohlford Road. While debris was cleared by about 6 a.m., the road was still blocked to traffic. 

At 12:15 p.m. Friday, an official with the City of Del Mar said there had been a bluff collapse at 15th Street, near the train tracks. The North County Transit District said the incident was causing delays on Coaster train services and trains planned to stop at Sorrento Valley and Solana Beach.

Meanwhile, several roads were still blocked to traffic Friday due to flooding or debris, according to various agencies. The map below shows roadways closed to traffic due to flooding:

At least an inch of rain pounded all parts of San Diego County, from the deserts to the coast, due to a powerful atmospheric river -- a storm system combined with subtropical moisture -- that hovered over San Diego County for nearly two days.  

The rainfall led to a broken record at Palomar Mountain, where 10.1 inches of rain was recorded on Thursday alone, the most rainfall ever in one day for San Diego County.

Other significant rainfall totals for the last 48 hours, as of 5 a.m., were:  

  • Palomar: 10.94 inches
  • Julian: 7.09 inches
  • Fallbrook: 5.28 inches
  • Oceanside: 3.44 inches
  • Santee: 2.88 inches
  • Borrego Spring: 1.54 inches
  • San Diego International Airport: 1.06 inches

San Diego would be mostly dry until Friday evening, when a chance for showers picks up. 

Several schools canceled classes Friday due to storm damage. The San Diego County Office of Education said schools in the following districts would be closed: 

  • Bonsall Unified School District
  • Fallbrook Union Elementary School District
  • Fallbrook Union High School District
  • Julian Union High School District
  • Julian Union School District
  • Mountain Empire Unified School District
  • Vallecitos School District

The Grossmont Union High School District said Monte Vista High School would be closed Friday due to a water main break.

Swollen rivers could still pose a problem as well. The only flash flood warning that remained in effect Friday was for the San Luis Rey River in Oceanside but the surging San Diego River and Santa Margarita rivers could be affected by mountain runoff. 

San Diego's beach cities should brace for possible flooding throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. 

Waves will average between 3 to 5 feet with some sets reaching up to 7 feet when the high surf reaches its peak late Saturday into Sunday morning. The surge could lead to minor coastal flooding at local beaches. 

A NWS beach hazards statement will be in effect through Sunday afternoon due to dangerous swimming conditions and the risk of drowning, the NWS said.

The Department of Environmental Health also advised swimmers to stay out of the water following the heavy rainfall.  

San Diego's mountains will be met with strong winds. A wind advisory will be in effect until 4 a.m. Saturday as wind speeds increase to about 20 to 30 miles per hour. Some gusts hear mountain ridge tops and along desert slopes could reach 55 mph. 

Powerful winds could make driving conditions difficult during this time and could cause power outages. 

Despite advisories from the NWS, weather conditions were much more tame Friday when compared to the devastation the storm system brought to San Diego County on Thursday. 

Amid heavy rainfall, an engorged Escondido Creek swept a man away on Thursday. The man's body, a surfboard and a paddleboard were recovered from the creek by a swift water rescue team. 

Five people were rescued in Fallbrook after their cars became trapped on a flooded roadway. The shaken rescuees told NBC 7 about being trapped in their cars as water levels rose around them. 

“We made it through the first pretty deep section. The water was over the hood; the car stalled a couple times,” Cody Fausett said. 

Capt. John Choi, spokesperson for the North County Fire Protection District which came to the aid of Fausett and the four others who were trapped said drivers should never try to cross even the most minorly flooded roadway. 

"If you have roadways that are covered by water, turn around. It’s better to turn around than to drown,” he said. “Find a different way. It’s not worth it."

The above-average rainfall was due in part to a subtropical jet stream that pulls tropical moisture into the region. Combined with the storm system, it creates an atmospheric river, Parveen said. 

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