SAN DIEGO – A strong Pacific storm will wreak havoc on California communities, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and dangerously high surf to the San Diego region.

The atmospheric river, categorized by the sub-tropical moisture pull, gained intensity as it churned off the West Coast Wednesday and is expected to be a brutal storm for much of the state.

Rain and gusty winds will start to impact San Diego County starting late Wednesday evening, with the brunt of storm moving in Thursday morning around 6 or 7 a.m.

While it will be less severe compared to its impact to the north of us, we can’t take this storm lightly.

Starting at the coast, dangerously high surf with breaking waves 10-13 feet with sets up to 16 feet are possible late Thursday into Friday morning. A High Surf Warning and Coastal Flood Advisory is in effect the rest of the work week for all local beaches. Powerful waves could flood beach lots and knock people off bluffs and jetties.

Strong southerly winds are forecasted for beaches and inland valleys as the storm approaches. Gusts could reach 30 to 40 miles per hour in these areas and could cause minor tree damage and hazardous driving conditions.

There are chances of thunderstorms developing sometime Thursday afternoon as widespread rain continues around 2 to 3 p.m.

When the storm fizzles late Thursday evening, we could be left with a half inch to an inch of rain at the coast, up to 1.5″ for inland valleys and up to 2 inches of rain for mountains.

Little to no snow is expected in our local mountain communities, snow levels remain relatively high with this system. On the other hand, Big Bear is set to get eight inches to a foot of snow above 7,000 ft. with up to two feet of snow above 8500 ft.

We get a break from the rain this weekend, but more storms on the horizon for the second week of January.