Light rain, strong winds expected throughout county

SAN DIEGO - A Pacific storm system lingering over San Diego County Wednesday could bring light to moderate rainfall throughout the region along with strong winds in the mountains, forecasters said.

The cold trough moving east across Southern California will drop scattered showers early Wednesday morning before the rainfall becomes more widespread through early Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm cell is expected to drop between a quarter-inch and a half- inch of rain in coastal and inland valley areas Wednesday, anywhere from a quarter inch to an inch in the mountains and less than one-tenth on an inch in the deserts, according to the NWS.

In a 24-hour period ending around 3 a.m., Warner Springs got the most precipitation, with 0.26 of an inch, followed by 0.16 near Lake Cuyamaca and Santa Ysabel; 0.15 on Palomar Mountain; 0.12 in Escondido; 0.09 in Santa Ysabel; 0.08 in Ramona and Julian; and 0.06 in Encinitas, according to the NWS.

Snow levels will remain above 8,000 feet Wednesday then begin gradually dropping to 4,500 feet on Friday, NWS Meteorologist Miguel Miller said.

"By the time the snow levels drop below 5,000 feet most of the moisture will have left the region, leaving little chance of snow accumulation in the mountain communities," Miller said.

The storm will also bring gusty winds, prompting the NWS to issue a wind advisory for the county mountains, including Julian, that will last until 7 a.m. Thursday.

Winds between 25 and 35 mph, with gusts reaching 55 mph, are expected near mountain crests and along desert slopes through Wednesday evening, according to the NWS.

There will be a brief break between storm systems Thursday afternoon then another cold trough will move into the region Thursday night, bringing scattered showers late Thursday night into Friday morning, Miller said.

A storm soaking Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties on Wednesday could trigger mudslides in wildfire burn areas where thousands of residents are under evacuation orders, authorities warned.

The storm also brought thunderstorms and a dramatic lightning display.

Nearly 1,500 pulses of lightning were recorded off the coast in one five-minute stretch alone, 231 over Santa Barbara County and 40 in Los Angeles County, shortly after 8 p.m, the National Weather Service told the Los Angeles Times.

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