A winter storm may bring up to a foot of snow to the highest peaks in San Diego County Tuesday while continuing to pummel the rest of the county with scattered showers.
An inch-and-a-half of snow fell in the Palomar Mountain area overnight forcing the San Diego County Department of Public Works (DPW) to warn travelers that chains must be used.
A sign at the base of Sunrise Highway also said chains were required for drivers en route to Mount Laguna.
Pine Valley and Julian had also seen overnight snowfall and a winter storm warning, in effect until 4 a.m. Wednesday warned of dangerous driving conditions.
Several Inches of Snow to Fall in San Diego Mountains
The Julian High School District said staff members released students early due to icy conditions.
"Do not go in our mountains unless you absolutely have to today," NBC 7 Traffic Anchor Whitney Southwick said. "Wait until tomorrow. Weather is going to clear; it’s going to be a beautiful day out there tomorrow."
For those planning a trip up to the mountains, CHP offered a few snow etiquette reminders.
NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said as snow continues to fall throughout the day, snow elevation levels will drop meaning more areas will receive a dusting of snow.
"Our First Alert Doppler 7 is showing those showers inland and heading to our mountains [early Tuesday] where they will be changing to snow – rain changing to snow as it hits that colder air," Parveen said.
By the time the storm passes on Wednesday, a foot of snow may have fallen at elevations above 5,500 feet while anywhere above 3,000 feet could see at least an inch.
"That winter storm means breezy conditions, significant snowfall, dangerous road conditions, especially as the snow level drops to around 3,000 -- maybe even 2,500 feet later tonight," Parveen said.
If elevations do drop that low, driving conditions on Interstate 8 in the way to Alpine may be affected.
Cal Fire San Diego and San Diego County Fire were working together to prepare for any weather-related incidents that may arise by staffing two four-wheel drive vehicles near Julion and one in the Mount Laguna area.
A swift water rescue team was at the ready near Pauma Valley in case of flooding or water-related issued in the East County. Two urban search and rescue teams were also staffed, Cal Fire said.
Despite the winter storm warning, some early risers did make their way up to Mount Laguna Tuesday morning.
While the snow totals weren't significant in the area yet, the Reece family was taking advantage of the light dusting to sled.
Snow Elevation Levels to Drop on Wednesday
"We took the kids out of school, we’re gonna go into Julian, have some lunch, play around, and then just drive around and see what’s going on," Kristie Reece said. "It’s not often that they get to see this kind of weather in San Diego."
Residents in Julian spent Monday afternoon and evening getting their families and homes ready for the snowfall and the tourists who will inevitably flock to see it.
All other parts of the county will continue to see scattered showers throughout the day. Rainfall will be moderate but some patches of heavy rain may hover in parts of the county, NBC 7 Meteorologist Dagmar Midcap said.
Some rain cells may even be strong enough to produce small hail, Midcap said. Overnight into Wednesday, frost is possible.
Scattered showers and freezing conditions in the mountains will continue into early Wednesday but the storm should make its way out of San Diego County by sunrise, Parveen said.
According to the NWS, Oceanside and Bonsall sat atop the five-day rainfall totals as of Monday night with 3.32 inches and 4.01 inches of rain, respectively. Alpine saw just under two inches.
Another quarter-inch to an inch of rain was expected to fall over inland cities before 5 p.m. Tuesday, while Julian and Pine Valley were expected to see more than an inch.
Monday's rainfall led to a mudslide along State Route 78 in Julian. Caltrans said the highway was with one-way traffic control starting at around 8:15 p.m. after mud and rocks spilled onto the roadway at Wynola Road.
In El Cajon, the intersection of Broadway and Graves Avenue turned into a small lake, leaving drivers blind to the potholes and debris beneath the surface of the water.
The storm system is the third to reach San Diego County in less than a week. Over the weekend, a separate storm system caused trees to fall and roadways to flood.