Storm brings rain, snow to parts of San Diego County

Snow levels could drop to 3,000 ft. Saturday night

SAN DIEGO - Rain and snow fell in parts of San Diego County on Saturday as a cold storm that was expected to bring gusty wind and significant amounts of snow to parts of the county's mountains moved through.

Viewers reported seeing rain in Oceanside, Escondido and Hillcrest. The storm also brought rain showers along the coast and in the valleys, according to the National Weather Service. As of 1 p.m., .12 inches of rain had fallen in Fallbrook and .05 inches were reported in Oceanside.

10News meteorologist Craig Herrera said the arctic blast will arrive Saturday afternoon with the first round of rain. The colder air arrived a few hours later, and snow levels could drop to as low as 3,000 feet.

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The coastal and inland areas can expect to get between a quarter of an inch to one inch of rain. One to three inches of snow is expected above 3,500 feet, and three to seven inches of snow is expected above 5,000 feet.

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Snow was expected to begin falling in East County and North County mountain areas Saturday morning, and will grow heavier Saturday afternoon, NWS forecasters said.

By mid-afternoon, about 1-2 inches of snow had fallen on Palomar Mountain in areas of about 4,700 feet, according to the county Department of Public Works, which dispatched three employees to plow. Snow chains were not required on the mountain.

Snow and icy roads were predicted for Interstate 8 between Alpine and Jacumba, and the National Weather Service suggested emergency travel only towards El Centro.

Interstate 8 has three summits above the 4,000-foot level in East County, and the freeway towards Arizona is frequently restricted to chains and 25 mile-per-hour traffic, or closed, in such weather. Heavy winds were noted at midday, but the road was clear, California Highway Patrol officers said.

North of Los Angeles, snow briefly closed both the Tejon and Tehachapi passes, leaving only U.S. 101 through Ventura and Salinas open for undelayed road travel between San Diego and Northern California. CHP units began to allow packs of vehicles to travel slowly over both passes during the noon hour.

At midday, Interstate 15 towards Las Vegas had freezing rain at Cajon Pass, and snow flurries at Mountain Pass, near the Nevada line.

The NWS advised mountain residents and travelers to be prepared for hazardous winter weather and possible road closures, and to carry tire chains, extra food and water, clothing and a flashlight, if possible.

"Significant amounts of snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous," the winter storm warning stated. "Only travel through the mountains in case of an emergency."

High temperatures Saturday will be in the 50s along the coast and inland areas, only in the 30s in the mountains, and 50s in the desert.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the mountains from 10 a.m. Saturday through 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

A high wind warning is also in effect for the mountains and deserts from 10 a.m. Saturday through 4 a.m. Sunday. West winds will range from 25 to 35 mph, with gusts up to possibly 60 mph. That would create white out conditions at times Saturday evening and Sunday in the higher elevations. 

Forecasters also expected the strong gusty winds of 20-30 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph to continue through tonight in the deserts, according to the NWS.

Gusts of 45 mph were recorded in In-Ko-Pah, and of 40 mph in Borrego Springs on Saturday afternoon, according to the NWS.

A gust of 70 mph was recorded at 1 p.m. on Volcan Mountain and a 60 mph was gust was reported from Harrison Park around 8:20 a.m., the NWS reported.

The storm will be gone by Sunday, but it will still be cold and windy.

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