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‘A Big Mess’ of Rain, Snow Arrives in San Diego for Thanksgiving Weekend

The county isn’t expected to dry up until late Friday and some lingering showers and cold weather could stretch into the weekend

Storms are expected to continue for a third day as Mother Nature put rain, snow, and wind on the menu for the Thanksgiving weekend.

The first sign of showers reached North County communities like Oceanside, Carlsbad and Julian just before 1 p.m. Wednesday and continued to push southeast, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

By 4 a.m. Friday, the coastal cities of Encinitas and Carlsbad had seen roughly 2.5 inches of rain over two days of the storm. More than 3 inches fell in San Onofre. Lemon Grove led all inland regions with 2.58 inches of rain. And Palomar Mountain was a half-inch away from getting the most rainfall in the mountains with 2.12 inches.

As for snowfall, Mount Laguna saw 3 inches of powder, Pine Valley received 2 inches, and Julian got an inch-and-a-half of dusting by late Thursday.

By 9 p.m. Thursday, Palomar Mountain received 7 inches of snow, and San Felipe Road and Montezuma Valley Road in the Ranchita Area both received a few inches of snow.

Julian and Pine Valley expected an additional 2 to 4 inches of snow Friday bringing total snowfall accumulations over one foot, NWS said.

During the storm’s three-day stint over the Southern California region, San Diego could see more than three inches of rain and up to six inches of snow, NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said.

“If you want to go see the snow, I would wait until the weekend when it stops falling,” Parveen said.

The impact proved to be dangerous for drivers on what AAA predicted to be the busiest travel holiday in 14 years.

Several watches and warnings were issued as the storm moved in to San Diego County.

A Winter Storm Warning and a Winter Weather Advisory were in effect through Friday.

The storm warning, which lasts until 10 p.m. Friday, predicted strong gusts of winds and snowfall in San Diego’s mountainous regions. The weather advisory, which lasts until 10 a.m. Friday, warned of a few inches of snow in the high desert areas.

During this time, visibility will be reduced and tree branches and power lines may be damaged, so please drive carefully.

“That will cause a big mess across (Interstate 8) near Pine Valley, so hazardous travel,” Parveen said, even suggesting to avoid the area altogether until the snow passes.

A Wind Advisory for the coastal and valley areas is in effect until 3 p.m. Friday, the NWS said. Winds can reach speeds of up to 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph near the coast.

The NWS issued a Beach Hazards Statement through 4 p.m. Friday, as waves may reach up to 6 feet.

With this may come minor coastal flooding in the mornings. NWS also warned people to avoid swimming in the waters due to the strong rip currents and possibility of lightning.

During the height of Thursday’s storm, a Flash Flood Warning and Watch, as well as a Severe Thunderstorm Warning were in effect. The weather produced inches of rain and penny-sized hail.

Coastal flooding is also possible as higher-than-usual tides, commonly known as king tides, hit the shore through Thursday. Imperial Beach had signs posted warning residents of potential flooding.

To learn more about the weather watches and warnings in San Diego County, click here.

While Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times for travel all year, it’s also one of the deadliest, the California Highway Patrol warned. The CHP said it would ramp up enforcement due to the winter weather.

“For those three days we will be in ‘Weather Alert’ around here, travel will be hazardous,” Parveen said in NBC 7’s First Alert Weather forecast. “Thanksgiving Day itself looks very messy travel-wise.”

The most damaging rain was expected on Thursday. The NWS said the areas of Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Chula Vista, National City, San Diego Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, La Mesa, Santee, and Poway should be on alert.

Several locations were handing out free sandbags to help residents protect their property.

Families in one section of University Heights were loading up on sandbags because they say layers on top of layers of new pavement on their street have shortened the curbs, and now heavy rain sends water gushing into their yards and homes.

But rain wasn’t the only weather to make a Thanksgiving appearance: The holiday also brought snow with it.

The California Highway Patrol reminded snow seekers that trespassing on private property to enjoy fresh snow is illegal.

Mountains as low as 3,000 feet saw 3 inches of snow, while mountains above 5,500 feet were expected to get more than a foot of snow.

Drivers were urged to check mountain road conditions before heading out and to travel with an emergency supply kit. While no snow tire requirements were issued as of Monday, it was a possibility once the storm hits.

For those experiencing homelessness in San Diego County’s unincorporated areas can seek shelter with the Inclement Weather Shelter Program.

Call 211 to get information about weather shelter locations and other homeless services.

“We instituted the program because we know that when people are exposed to inclement weather, they are more likely to experience health issues that could be life-threatening,” said David Estrella, Director of HHSA’s Housing and Community Development Services.

The county isn’t expected to dry up until late Friday and some lingering showers and cold weather could stretch into the weekend. Drier conditions are expected next week, Parveen said.

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