SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A cold storm system has arrived in San Diego County and will drop steady rain Wednesday, along with snow in the mountains.
Thunderstorms are also possible through Friday everywhere except desert areas, National Weather Service forecasters said.
The storm sweeping in from the northwest is expected to drop up to 1.5 inches of rain in coastal areas, up to 2 inches in the western valleys, 2.5 inches in the mountains and up to two-tenths of an inch in the deserts, according to the NWS.
Snow levels will drop to around 4,500 feet Wednesday, then plunge to 3,500 feet Thursday and 3,000 feet on Friday.
Areas near the peak of Palomar Mountain are forecast to get between 18 and 24 inches of snow through Friday night, while 8-12 inches of white powder is forecast for Mt. Laguna and 4-6 inches is expected to fall in Julian.
A winter storm warning will be in effect through 10 p.m. Thursday in mountain locales above 3,500 feet.
On Wednesday morning, the following school districts shifted to distance learning for all students because of the storm conditions: Julian Union Elementary School District, Mountain Empire Unified School District, and Warner Unified School District. San Diego County Office of Education officials also said the Julian Union High School District has closed for a "snow day."
NWS officials warn that the falling snow could reduce visibility and make travel difficult on major mountain passes, including Interstate 8. Strong winds could also impact mountains areas and blow down tree limbs.
"If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of emergency," the NWS said in a statement.
Highs temperatures on Wednesday are expected to be in the high-50s in coastal areas, the low-40s to mid-50s in the western valleys, the high-30s to mid-40s in the mountains and the high-50s to mid-60s in the deserts.
Consistent showers will remain through Thursday night, then scattered showers are expected on Friday before the storm exits by Saturday morning, forecasters said.