Winter storm brings heavy snowfall, gusty winds to San Diego mountains

Rainfall in county to last into Thursday

SAN DIEGO - A frosty storm out of the Gulf of Alaska began moving over the San Diego area Tuesday, bringing scattered precipitation expected to increase markedly Tuesday evening and early Wednesday.

INTERACTIVE WEATHER MAP: Check local weather conditions

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the banks of dark clouds had dropped only traces of moisture in many parts of the county, and a few one-hundredths to around a tenth of an inch in other areas.

Total rainfall from the unsettled atmospheric system likely will range from one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch along the coast and in the valleys, as much as two inches on some mountain slopes, and up to a half-inch in desert locales, according to the National Weather Service.

The 10News Pinpoint Weather Team says thunderstorms and hail could add an exclamation point to the dramatic weather.

According to the 10News Pinpoint Weather Team, temperatures and estimated rainfall totals:

-- Coast/Valleys: Low to mid 50s and 0.25-0.50 inches rain
-- Mountains: Low to mid 30s and 1-2 inches rain
-- Desert: mid to upper 50s and 0.25 inches or less rain

The snow level, meanwhile, should drop to as low as 1,500 feet Tuesday evening and possibly to 1,000 feet by around dawn Wednesday. The storm is expected to drop anywhere from one to four inches of frozen white flakes between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, up to eight inches between 3,000 and 5,000 feet, and as much as 20 inches on the highest local peaks.

In Pine Valley, a cold winter mix started falling around noon and continued as temperatures dipped. Short bursts of snow were spotted and accumulation began around 7 p.m. Snow plows on Sunrise Highway were out in force clearing the roads of a thin layer of slippery slush. 

A winter storm warning was issued for the mountains through noon Wednesday, while a winter weather advisory was issued for the inland valleys through 6 a.m. Wednesday.

A high wind warning is in effect for the mountains and desert through Wednesday evening. Driving and boating could be hazardous at times as winds up to 70 mph blow over desert slopes and passes, and gale-force gusts whip along the ocean shoreline, according to meteorologists.

A wind advisory for the coast and valleys will run through 10 a.m. Wednesday. Westerly winds of 15-25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph are expected.

On Thursday, there's a chance of leftover showers, but the region is expected to dry out through the weekend, staying partly sunny and cool and gradually reaching the low to mid 60s on Saturday and Sunday.

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