SAN DIEGO — Sunday brought rain and snow to San Diego County, drawing crowds to mountain communities that gave way to traffic nightmares and road closures in the evening.
Four inches of snow fell in lower-elevation areas such as Julian overnight. The dusting began falling late in the afternoon and continued steadily into Monday morning, the National Weather Service reported. Six to 12 inches were recorded at Mt. Laguna and Palomar Mountain.
By 4 p.m. Sunday, the Sheriff’s substation in Julian asked visitors to stay out of the town due to “large crowds” and snowfall. “Driving conditions continue to be dangerous due to the weather,” the department explained on Twitter.
Due to the snowfall in Julian and the large crowds already in town, @SDSOJulian is asking the public to stay away for their own safety. Driving conditions continue to be dangerous due to the weather. We thank you for your patience and cooperation. #SanDiegoWx #WinterStorm pic.twitter.com/8GZ7ec38dA
— Julian Substation (@SDSOJulian) February 18, 2019
A series of accidents on the road to Julian slowed traffic to a crawl by 6 p.m. A short time later, California Highway Patrol announced a portion of State Route 79 — from Mile Post Marker 7 south of Cuyamaca Lake to State Route 78 in Julian — would be closed. Sunrise Highway was also closed from SR-79 to Old Highway 80.
The closures remained Monday morning.
Sheriff’s officials said large crowds had also gathered in Mt. Laguna and other mountain areas. “Expect heavy traffic and windy/icy conditions over the coming days,” the county’s Rural Substations group warned on Twitter. “Be prepared and bring tire chains just in case. Be mindful of your surroundings.”
“It’s pretty snowy up there,” one driver told FOX 5 after driving down from Mt. Laguna. “A couple cars got stuck and then I heard a teen kid had to run in his sweatpants to one of the troopers to get help.”
Chain control requirements also went into effect near Mt. Laguna and Julian:
Mt Laguna, chains are required on Sunrise Hwy from SR 79 to Hwy 8 due to snow and icy conditions
— San Diego County DPW (@sdcountydpw) February 17, 2019
Chain control (R-2) is in effect on SR-79 between I-8 and the SR-79/SR-78 junction in Julian, due to snowy roadway conditions. #SDCaltransAlert
— Caltrans San Diego (@SDCaltrans) February 18, 2019
Periods of showers moved across the county early Monday and cleared the way for sunny skies by 8:30 a.m., according to the NWS.
Another cold storm is expected to move through late Wednesday through Friday.