2 die in crashes on rain-slicked freeways

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SAN DIEGO — A strong Pacific storm moved across the San Diego area Friday evening, delivering widespread downpours and stiff winds that toppled trees, felled power lines and may have played a part in two fatal accidents.

Rain began falling during the evening commute, with some of the heavies downpours hitting coastal areas around 7 p.m. The rain cause numerous low-lying roads to flood around the county.

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The heavy rain was believed to be a factor in two fatal freeway accidents. The first one happened shortly after 5 p.m. on southbound Interstate 15 near Mira Mesa Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Jake Sanchez. A driver lost control, causing a chain-reaction crash that involved four vehicles. The passenger in a Geoprism was killed. Everyone else involved in the cars suffered minor to moderate injuries, Sanchez said.

Read more: Downed tree splits home in half

The second fatal accident happened at about 5:40 p.m. on northbound Highway 15 south of University Avenue in City Heights. A woman driving a Volkswagen Jetta was speeding when she lost control and crashed into a disabled utility truck that was stopped on the side of the freeway. A passenger in the Jetta was killed and the driver was taken to a hospital with unknown injuries, Officer Sanchez said. Speed and the rain were likely a factor in both crashes, he said.

“People have to slow down in this type of weather,” Sanchez said. “If they don’t, these type of tragedies are going to keep occurring.”

The unsettled atmospheric system began dousing the northern reaches of the county late Thursday and moved steadily south Friday morning and afternoon.

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Rainfall rates exceeding a half-inch an hour are likely through late evening, creating the likelihood of widespread urban and small-stream flooding, meteorologists advised.

Over a 12-hour period ending at 5:30 p.m., according to the NWS, the dark clouds had dropped 0.55 of an inch of precipitation in San Onofre; 0.4 in Oceanside; 0.26 in Carlsbad; 0.24 in Fallbrook; 0.19 in Solana Beach; 0.18 in Point Loma; 0.14 at Miramar Lake; 0.13 in Kearny Mesa; 0.12 in Bonsall, Carlsbad and San Marcos; 0.11 in Mission Valley; 0.07 in Rancho Bernardo; 0.05 in Escondido; 0.04 in Santee and Valley Center; and 0.02 on Mount Woodson.

The heaviest downpours will occur Friday evening, followed by lighter and steadily decreasing showers Saturday, forecasters said. By the time the storm makes its exit from the region on Sunday, local rainfall tallies are expected to range from 1.5 to 2.5 inches.

A high-wind warning was slated to remain in effect until 2 a.m. Saturday, and a high-surf warning until 10 p.m. Sunday.

Partly cloudy skies will prevail through most of next week, with a slight chance of showers in some locales on Monday and Wednesday, according to the weather service.