Winter storm’s effects felt throughout San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO — The effects of a strong winter storm were felt throughout San Diego County Monday.

The second of three storms expected in the area brought lots of snow to the mountains and you didn’t have to drive far from San Diego to find it. It was snowing just past Alpine off Interstate 8 east at an elevation of 2,000 feet, about a 30-minute drive from San Diego.

FOX 5’s Misha DiBono pulled off at Japatul Valley Road, where snow and hail were coming down hard and piling up. Dozens of families were driving up to the mountains and stopped when it appeared to be too dangerous to go any further.

California Highway Patrol said Sunrise Highway was closed from State Route 79 to mile marker 26.5. Chains are required on the remaining portion of Sunrise. With wind gusts up to 65 miles per hour and temperatures expected to stay in the low 20s, the mountains could see anywhere between three and five inches of snow.

Snow could fall at altitudes as low as 1,500 feet this week, which means Alpine could even see some.

“This has been the coldest winter I’ve seen in my four years here,” Alpine resident Sherry Rivas said. “Oh my gosh, it’s hailing!”

Bob, a man visiting from Alaska who didn’t want to give his last name, was trying to drive to Tucson Monday night but was worried the slick conditions would force him to find a hotel for the night.

“I don’t have chains,” he said. “I just have city tires.”

Out at the coast, San Diego beaches were hit hard with sustained high winds. Lifeguards warned people to avoid the coastline in North County as they measured wind gusts up to 43 miles per hour at Moonlight Beach. Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach reported a peak wind gust of 65 mph at 3 p.m.

The wind whipped sand around while rain soaked the bluffs and waves crashed along the shore.

“Once you get these bluffs saturated with rainwater, they become even more unstable. So this naturally eroding coastline, these bluffs here, you have to be cognizant of that,” Encinitas Lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles said. “If you have any questions, please come down to any of these lifeguard stations up and down the coastline and ask them what’s going on.”

Winds gusts battered boats at the Chula Vista Marina. Sails were unfurled, tarps were ripped off and at least one boat became unmoored, according to sailors on the dock.

“Last night was extreme — it was extreme, because it’s normally not like this,” boat owner James Horwood said.

No major damage was reported as winds were expected to continue to blow throughout the evening before calming down around 8 p.m. A small craft advisory remains in place. 

The National Weather Service warned San Diegans to bring pets and plants inside as temperatures were expected to drop to 30 degrees in some areas overnight.

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