Winter Storms, High Surf, Strong Winds Hit San Diego; Flash Flood Watch Issues

The rain is expected to last through Monday, according to NBC 7’s weather team

It’s going to be a very wet few days in usually sunny San Diego. On Thursday, locals woke up to a series of winter storms, the second of which will roll in late this evening. 

NBC 7 meteorologist Jodi Kodesh said the first storm in a series of three hit San Diego’s North County at around 4 a.m. Thursday. 

[G] Rain, Wind Descend on San Diego County

The early-morning system moved quickly, soaking San Diego with heavy rain throghout the morning. That rainfall tapered after 10 a.m., with scattered, spotty showers in the afternoon and evening.

The first storm in a series of several hit San Diego County early Thursday, causing a wet commute for early risers. NBC 7’s Elena Gomez reports.

"We're only going to see a high of about 60, 61 [degrees] this morning," Kodesh added.

She expects the rain to kick back up at night.

A rain storm may impact events scheduled across San Diego County this upcoming week. Staff at the Circus Vargas show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds spoke with NBC 7’s Katia Lopez-Hodoyan about how they are getting ready for the storm.

"We're going to be giving that umbrella a workout," she said.

On Friday morning, a bigger storm will arrive, which will bring with it potential for thunderstorms in parts of the county, Kodesh said, and the possibility of flooding.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Friday. The warning says heavy showers and thunderstorms Friday increases the threat of flash flooding. 

Areas that may be impacted are San Diego County coastal, valley and mountain regions. That includes areas like Oceanside, Vista, Chula Vista, National City, San Diego, Julian, Pine Valley, and Santee. 

The watch is in effect from Friday morning to evening. 

The weekend will likely be wet as well, with a chance of showers Saturday morning and again after 10 p.m. On Sunday, the chance of showers lingers, Kodesh said.

The final storm in the series is expected Monday, and that storm should be the biggest one of all, Kodesh said. Check NBC 7’s forecast here.

The NWS said the series of storms will also activate some weather warnings around San Diego including a high surf warning in effect from 4 p.m. Thursday through 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Businesses along the coast are preparing for the storms expected to hit San Diego County over the next several days. A beach hazard statement will go into effect Thursday, with the possibility of coastal flooding and high surf. NBC 7’s Elena Gomez reports.

The NWS expects high surf around 7 feet to develop late Thursday afternoon, increasing on Friday to 10 to 16-foot surf. By Sunday, the NWS expects the high surf to subside to 4 to 8 feet. Monday, surf will be between 9 and 12 feet at local beaches, slowly lowering into Tuesday.

The highest tide – 4.6 feet – will be Saturday at 4:35 a.m. in La Jolla, according to the NWS.

The high surf will bring with it potential for strong rip currents, coastal erosion and coastal flooding; on Wednesday, beachside businesses braced for this, surrounding their locations with sand bags, buckets and other tools to prepare for the storms.

The NWS said piers may also be flooded by the high surf. Often times, in storms and winter weather events, the Ocean Beach Pier is closed to the public as a precaution. Officials discourage people from swimming in our oceans during high surf warnings.

The NWS said a high wind advisory will also be in effect in San Diego’s mountains and deserts during part of the series of storms, through 4 a.m. Friday. As with all weather warnings, that one may be extended as the storm systems develop.

The NWS said the strongest winds are expected Friday and Friday night. The winds will gradually decrease Saturday but could kick back up again late Sunday and Monday.

Kodesh said preliminary rainfall totals following this wet weekend are estimated to be 2 to 4 inches along the coast with 3 to 5 inches in the valleys. San Diego County Mountains could receive 5 to 10 inches of rainfall, with snow predicted above 5,000 feet. Snowfall could measure between an inch and five inches in some areas with the higher peaks receiving 7 inches to a foot of new snow.

Farther east, residents in the upper desert areas could see an inch to 3 inches of rain with slightly less (1 to 2 inches) in the lower deserts, Kodesh said.

“My concern is, after the first and second storms move through, our ground will be saturated,” Kodesh said. “That means, when the final storm rolls in, the ground won’t be able to absorb much, and we run a really high risk of run-off and flash flooding.”

In light of possible flooding, several locations across San Diego County's districts are offering free sandbags to residents.

Also, the San Diego Housing Commission, in partnership with the City of San Diego, has activated its Inclement Weather Shelter Program for downtown San Diego’s homeless at Father Joe’s Villages and Connections Housing Downtown. The program provides shelter to the homeless during severe weather conditions.

To that end, Father Joe’s Villages Shelter on Imperial Avenue, which can house up to 250 people, will be open to the homeless starting at 4 p.m. The homeless can also check into PATH San Diego/Connections Housing Downtown, which can house 30 people, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Make sure to download NBC 7’s free news app. Weather alerts, like flood advisories warnings are issued through the app. There is also a local, interactive radar.

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