Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Unseasonably chilly storm douses San Diego area

SAN DIEGO - An unseasonably chilly spring storm doused the San Diego area with showers and late-season mountain snow today.

The dark bands of clouds out of the Gulf of Alaska brought gusty winds and some showers overnight, then began drenching the region with heavier intermittent downpours in the morning, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures around San Diego County dropped to levels 15 to 20 degrees below late-April norms.

By 7 a.m., snow had fallen on both sides of Interstate 8 east of Pine Valley, and across the entire length of Sunrise Highway, according to the California Highway Patrol, which sent snowplows to clear mountain routes for motorists.

Hail was reported in the East County as far inland as El Cajon.

Over the 24-hour period ending at 6 p.m., the wintry storm dropped 1.14 inches of precipitation at Lake Cuyamaca; 0.8 in Julian; 0.52 at Palomar Observatory; 0.34 in La Mesa; 0.33 Santa Ysabel; 0.26 in the Granite Hills area of El Cajon; 0.22 at Brown Field airport; 0.19 in Kearny Mesa and downtown San Diego; 0.17 in Rancho Bernardo; and 0.04 in Carlsbad.

As is typical on rainy days, the region's wet freeways and surface streets were hampered by numerous collisions. Between midnight and 5 p.m., the California Highway Patrol logged 109 accidents, compared to 50-75 over a full day under dry skies.

By the time the unsettled weather pattern departs Thursday night, it will have dropped one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch of moisture in coastal and valley communities, and one to two inches on lower-elevation west-facing slopes, the NWS predicted.

Four to eight inches of snow is likely in areas above 4,000 feet, with drifts up to 10 inches deep possible on the highest peaks.

Winds of 15-20 mph will remain likely through much of the region over the course of the storm, with gusts up to 50 mph in some mountain and desert locales, according to the weather service.

Periods of dense fog will also be a possibility along the coast, and ocean swimming will be ill-advised due to a strong potential for rip currents, the agency advised.

Dry, mild conditions will return Friday, forecasters said.


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