Lightning flashes as El Nino storm hits San Diego

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SAN DIEGO -- The second of two cold Pacific storms brought lighting, hail, heavy rain and rainbows stretching across San Diego County Monday.

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for the entire San Diego County coastline from Imperial Beach north to Oceanside and Fallbrook. The warning expired at 9:30 a.m.

The storm brought snow to the mountains, gusty winds to the mountains, valleys and deserts, damaging waves to the coastline and rain throughout San Diego County.

A National Weather Service winter storm warning for the mountains took effect at 8 a.m. Monday and will expire at 3 a.m. Tuesday. A wind advisory for the valleys, mountains and deserts will extend until 8 p.m. Monday. A high surf advisory for the coast was upgraded to a warning at noon, and a coastal flood advisory will run from 6 a.m. to noon Tuesday.


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“A cold Pacific storm from the northwest will move across Southern California today and into Baja tonight,'' according to the weather service. “Numerous snow showers will develop today and continue into early evening, decreasing tonight into early Tuesday. There is also a slight chance of thunderstorms.''

The snow level is expected to drop from around 5,500 feet this morning to about 4,000 feet Monday night. Gusty west to northwest winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts to 50 mph may blow snow across roadways in the mountains, causing visibility to drop to near zero.

Forecasters said 8 to 14 inches of snow could accumulate at altitudes of more than 5,500 feet, and up to 18 inches could fall in areas higher than 7,000 feet. A few inches will likely accumulate in locales as low as 4,500 feet. One to 1 1/2 inches of rain is also expected in some mountain areas, along with .40 to .75 of an inch of rain west of the mountains and a quarter to half an inch in the deserts.

Those who live in or are traveling through the mountains Monday were advised to carry tire chains, extra food and clothing.

High temperatures predicted to be around 10 to 15 degrees below average were also attributed to the storm. But forecasters said near normal temperatures would return Tuesday.

High temperatures Monday were predicted to be 56 to 61 degrees in the western valleys, 47 to 52 degrees near the foothills, 40 to 47 degrees in the mountains, 60 to 65 degrees in the deserts and around 59 degrees near the coast.

“Very large surf will hit the beaches today through Tuesday morning. The combination of this surf, gusty winds and projected high tides of over 6 feet will threaten coastal flooding, particularly around times of high tide this morning and Tuesday morning,'' according to the weather service. “The threat of damaging surf and coastal flooding will diminish Tuesday.''

Some piers may sustain damage and low-lying areas like beach parking lots, nearby roadways and walking paths will be at risk for flooding. The surf and strong rip currents will cause dangerous swimming conditions, and the waves be high enough to top jetties or sea walls.