Fierce winds menace mountain traffic

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SAN DIEGO – Some of the highest summits in San Diego County, including Palomar Mountain and Mount Laguna saw a slight dusting of snow Monday, and other San Diego County mountains and valleys experienced some scattered showers, but the most noticeable thing about the weather was the wind.

There was a light dusting of snow in the Julian area Monday morning. (Photo: David Davis)

Cold weather, light rain, mountain snow and gusty winds were expected to continue Monday night and into the middle of this week, according to the National Weather Service

The windiest areas Monday were in the mountains, where gusts reached 50 mph. Among valley areas, Alpine was the rainiest, where 0.12 inches fell by noon. About 0.19 inches fell at Lake Cuyamaca.

It was chilly across the county, with a high of 61 in San Diego, 60 in Oceanside and 56 in Ramona. Lows Monday night are expected to reach near- freezing temperatures in places such as Oceanside, Escondido and Alpine. It will fall to 28 in Ramona and 21 at Mount Laguna, according to the NWS.

A winter weather advisory for the mountains went into effect at 6 p.m. Sunday and was set to expire at 10 p.m. Monday, the NWS said. Accompanying the snow will be strong, gusty winds between 25 and 35 mph with gusts up to 75 mph possible near mountain ridge tops and along desert slopes.

Officials warned drivers to prepare for slick mountain roads and watch out for other hazards.

"Plan on slippery road conditions ... (and) be prepared for snow covered roads ... including during the evening commute," the NWS said. "Damage to trees and power lines is likely. Be prepared for reduced visibilities at times."

West of the mountains, winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph were expected through Monday evening. As a result, the NWS issued a wind advisory for much of San Diego County from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. The wind advisory in part covered the coastal region, including Vista, Carlsbad, Encinitas, San Diego, Chula Vista and National City.

A wind advisory for the same time period also covered the county's valley and foothills, including Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, La Mesa, Santee and Poway. A frost advisory for those same areas was set to take effect at 10 Monday night and continue until 9 a.m. Tuesday. The frost advisory signifies that patchy frost is possible, which could kill sensitive outdoor plants that are left uncovered.

The NWS also issued a wind advisory for the desert area of Borrego Springs, where sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph were expected in the desert.

"Strong winds will make travel difficult for high-profile vehicles," the NWS warned. "Blowing dust and sand may reduce visibility to near zero in a few locations."

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