SAN DIEGO — Rain, snow, strong winds and big waves are in store for San Diego County Thursday, forecasters said.
“A cold upper level low and a strong surface cold front will bring strong winds and snow showers (Thursday) as it moves quickly across the region,” according to the National Weather Service.
“Snow levels will lower rapidly to around 3,000 feet during the day, and continue lowering (Thursday night). Winds will gust over 60 miles per hour over parts of the mountains. Snow squalls may briefly reduce visibilities to near zero at times.”
Interstate 8 in the East County could have snow covering the roadway by this afternoon, according to the NWS, which cautioned motorists against unnecessary travel into the mountains today.
For air travelers, the weather service issued an airport weather warning for Lindbergh Field from noon to 8 p.m., saying sustained winds of 25 knots or greater and wind gusts of 30 knots or greater were likely.
The weather service also said light to moderate rainfall is likely in and west of the mountains today, with less than a tenth of an inch expected near the coast and around a quarter-inch in mountain areas.
The agency scheduled a winter storm warning for the mountains above 3,000 feet from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and a high wind warning for desert areas from 6 a.m. today to 3 a.m. Friday.
During the storm warning, up to four inches of snow is expected to accumulate above 4,000 feet. Local areas affected by the storm warning include Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Julian, Mount Laguna, Pine Hills, Pine Valley, Ranchita, Santa Ysabel and Warner Springs.
Also expected in the mountains today are sustained west winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts up to 50 mph. Similar wind speeds are expected in the deserts today.
In addition to the high wind warning in the deserts today, a less serious wind advisory is scheduled in coastal and valley areas from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sustained west winds in coastal and valley areas are expected to be 15 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.
Also expected along the coast today are 7- to 10-foot waves. The weather service scheduled coastal flooding and high surf advisories from 5 o’clock this morning until 11 a.m. Saturday.
“Higher waves may wash over sea walls, jetties and over low-lying portions of the Ocean Beach Pier,” according to an NWS advisory. “Water and sand may wash across portions of the Pacific Coast Highway between Sunset Beach and Seal Beach and Coast Highway 101 between Cardiff and Del Mar … Strong rip currents will make entering the water extremely dangerous.”
For mariners off the coast of San Diego, a gale warning is scheduled from 2 p.m. through late tonight and a small craft advisory is set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Starting Friday, significantly cooler temperatures are expected in the county because of the snow expected to accumulate in the mountains today. According to the Weather Service, temperatures Friday through Monday will be 10 to 15 degrees cooler than normal for the time of year, though a minor warming is possible Monday.
“Many inland areas could have several hours of subfreezing temperatures each night from Friday night through Monday night with temperatures in inland valley and some lower desert areas in the 20s and locally in the upper teens,” according to an NWS advisory. “Growers should take precautions to protect sensitive crops.”