SAN DIEGO - A cold front brought rain, snow, strong winds and big waves to San Diego County Thursday.
The rain hit Mission Beach at 5:15 a.m. on Thursday, and the elements grew more intense throughout the morning.
Sgt. David Rains of San Diego City Lifeguards Service has kept watch of the waters for 26 years. Thursday's conditions stood out to him.
"It’s always interesting to watch the tides change when they have such a range from high to low. “
They were called “King Tides,” and they roll in every January. High tide peaked at 7.3 feet, and from there, started to drop drastically.
Rains said those extreme lows reveal reefs you do not normally see from above water. "People go out and press their limits," he added.
"A cold upper level low and a strong surface cold front will bring strong winds and snow showers (Thursday) as it moves quickly across the region," according to the National Weather Service.
The weather service also said light to moderate rainfall is likely in and west of the mountains Thursday, with less than a tenth of an inch expected near the coast and around a quarter-inch in mountain areas.
The agency scheduled a winter storm warning for the mountains above 3,000 feet from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and a high wind warning for desert areas from 6 a.m. today to 3 a.m. Friday.
During the storm warning, up to 4 inches of snow is expected to accumulate above 4,000 feet. Local areas affected by the storm warning include Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Julian, Mount Laguna, Pine Hills, Pine Valley, Ranchita, Santa Ysabel and Warner Springs.
"Snow levels will lower rapidly to around 3,000 feet during the day, and continue lowering. Winds will gust over 60 miles per hour over parts of the mountains. Snow squalls may briefly reduce visibilities to near zero at times," said the NWS.
Interstate 8 in the East County could have snow covering the roadway by Thursday afternoon, according to the NWS, which cautioned motorists against unnecessary travel into the mountains.
Also expected in the mountains Thursday are sustained west winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts up to 50 mph. Similar wind speeds are expected in the deserts.
In addition to the high wind warning in the deserts Thursday, a less serious wind advisory is scheduled in coastal and valley areas from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sustained west winds in coastal and valley areas are expected to be 15 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.
Also expected along the coast today are 7- to 10-foot waves. The weather service scheduled coastal flooding and high surf advisories from 5 o'clock this morning until 11 a.m. Saturday.
"Higher waves may wash over sea walls, jetties and over low-lying portions of the Ocean Beach Pier," according to an NWS advisory. "Water and sand may wash across portions of the Pacific Coast Highway between Sunset Beach and Seal Beach and Coast Highway 101 between Cardiff and Del Mar ... Strong rip currents will make entering the water extremely dangerous."
For mariners off the coast of San Diego, a gale warning is scheduled from 2 p.m. through late Thursday night and a small craft advisory is set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Starting Friday, significantly cooler temperatures are expected in the county because of the snow expected to accumulate in the mountains today. According to the Weather Service, temperatures Friday through Monday will be 10 to 15 degrees cooler than normal for the time of year, though a minor warming is possible Monday.
"Many inland areas could have several hours of subfreezing temperatures each night from Friday night through Monday night with temperatures in inland valley and some lower desert areas in the 20s and locally in the upper teens," according to an NWS advisory. "Growers should take precautions to protect sensitive crops."
CHP SHUTS DOWN GRAPEVINE SECTION OF I-5
Snow and icy road conditions have closed the Grapevine section of Interstate 5 in the mountains north of Los Angeles as winter weather bears down on Southern California.
The California Highway Patrol has shut down the major north-south route at Fort Tejon. Several accidents have been reported.
The National Weather Service says the mountains could see snow levels down to 2,000 feet Thursday, while winds may gust to 60 mph there and up to 45 mph in valleys and coastal areas.
Highs will only hit the 50s and 60s and rain showers are expected throughout the region. It's expected to be even colder on Friday and the cold will linger through the weekend.
There also will be overnight frosts and freezes in colder valleys.