Coastal residents brace for potential flooding

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SAN DIEGO -- Gusty wind, scattered showers, big waves and mountain snow may hit parts of San Diego County Friday as a potent winter storm moves across Southern California.

A National Weather Service high wind warning for the mountains is scheduled to expire at 10 p.m. today. West to northwest winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour are forecast for the advisory period, along with gusts that may reach 70 mph.

Forecasters said the strong and potentially damaging winds may lead to hazardous driving conditions on stretches of Interstate 8 tin the mountains, especially for motorists in high-profile vehicles. Visibility on some desert roadways may also be reduced due to blowing dust.

A less severe wind advisory for the deserts will also expire at 10 p.m. as winds of 20 to 30 mph and gusts of up to 55 mph weaken.   Along the coastline, winds of 15 to 30 mph and gusts of up to 40 mph will be possible amid a wind advisory scheduled from noon to 8 p.m.

Damaging surf and coastal flooding will also be possible as a large northwest swell builds in the Pacific, according to the weather service. A
coastal flood advisory will expire at noon Sunday, but a high surf warning will remain in effect until 4 p.m. that day.

The surf south of Carlsbad is expected to build to 8 to 10 feet today and sets may peak at 15 feet, forecasters said.

``Breezy west winds, morning high tides near 7 feet and high surf will combine to threaten coastal flooding and damage in the mornings today through Sunday,'' according to the weather service.

In addition to the cold, windy weather, forecasters said the winter storm would also bring scattered showers, which are expected to move east over Southern California this morning. Light to moderate rain this morning is expected to give way to heavier precipitation and isolated thunderstorms this afternoon along the west mountain slopes.

Rainfall amounts of up to an inch are in the forecast for the mountains, two-tenths to half an inch of rain west of the mountains and less than a tenth of an inch in the deserts.

As of 2:30 a.m., the snow level was about 7,500 to 8,000 feet. However, weather service forecasters said the snow level would drop to 5,300 to 6,000 feet this afternoon then down to 4,500 to 5,000 feet this evening. The highest elevations may see up to 4 inches of snow, areas with altitudes between 6,000 and 7,000 could see up to 3 inches and lower elevations may just get a trace.

The rain and snow are expected to ease up early Saturday as the storm moves east, and drier weather is in the forecast this weekend. However, a second bout of rain and strong wind will hit Sunday night.

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