Heavy rain, big surf & damaging winds arrive Friday night

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SAN DIEGO - A strong Pacific storm is expected to bring heavy precipitation that may cause flooding, the possibility of thunderstorms, potentially damaging winds and big waves to San Diego County in the coming days.

Rain may begin falling overnight in locales west of the mountains, but the brunt of the storm is expected Friday and Saturday. A National Weather Service beach hazards statement warning of strong rip currents and potentially damaging surf that could reach 15 feet over the weekend will take effect late Thursday evening. Both a flash flood and a high wind watch for the entire county will begin on Friday.

"A major storm system will move in from the Pacific on Friday, bringing heavy rainfall and the potential of flash flooding to Southern California Friday through Saturday with the greatest impact period forecast to be Friday night," according to the NWS.

The wet winter storm is poised to deliver through Saturday .84 of an inch of rain in Borrego Springs; 1.22 inches in the city of San Diego; 1.34 inches in the Miramar area; 1.41 inches in Alpine and Ramona; 1.43 inches in Escondido; 1.70 inches in Oceanside; 1.73 inches in Julian; 1.81 inches on Mount Laguna; and 2.14 inches on Palomar Mountain, according to the weather service. Rainfall rates of a half an inch to an inch per hour are possible, which could lead to flash flooding.

Snow levels are expected to be around 6,500 to 7,500 feet during the heaviest band of precipitation, according to the NWS.

Forecasters said that while heavy snow will be confined higher areas, strong winds are likely at all elevations. The strongest winds are expected Friday, and gusts may down trees and powerlines and could possibly damage some structures.

The strongest wind gusts Friday are expected to be 36 miles per hour in Borrego Springs; 38 mph in Julian; 41 mph in Ramona; 47 mph in Alpine and Escondido; 51 mph in the Miramar area; 53 mph in Oceanside and San Diego; 60 mph on Palomar Mountain; and 74 mph on Mount Laguna, according to the weather service.

"Two day rainfall totals will likely be substantial, along with very strong winds making for hazardous travel conditions and possible tree damage," according to the NWS. "Heavy rainfall rates may cause flash flooding, debris flows and possible river flooding."

The winds are expected to weaken Saturday morning. Rain showers and mountain snow could continue Saturday, but the region should dry out for the most part Sunday, although light rain may possibly fall in some areas into Monday, according to the NWS. The high surf is expected to gradually diminish through Sunday night.