Rain continues through morning commute as storm moves out of San Diego

SAN DIEGO (KGTV/CNS) - Rain continued to douse the San Diego region Wednesday morning, but the precipitation is expected to give way to dry and warmer conditions later in the day.

10News Meteorologist Megan Parry said showers will linger throughout the morning commute and then taper off by mid-morning as the bulk of the strong winter storm moves east.

Due to the continuing rain, drivers are being warned to prepare for wet and slick roads this morning. On Tuesday, more than 400 vehicle crashes were reported on local freeways by the California Highway Patrol.

Tuesday's storm also flooded roadways, led to numerous power outages and caused property damage across the county.

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The wet and blustery conditions -- the first dose of significant precipitation to hit the county in months -- delivered much-needed moisture to the parched region, from two-plus inches along the coast to twice that amount in parts of the eastern highlands.

At daybreak Tuesday, Oceanside had already received 2.41 inches of rain, Carlsbad 1.7 inches, Vista 1.56 inches and Lindbergh Field 1.19 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

By late afternoon, the steady downpours had set a spate of local precipitation records -- 3.8 inches on Palomar Mountain, exceeding the prior milestone of 3.79, set in 2005; 2.64 inches at Oceanside Harbor (1.19, 1980); 2.09 in Vista (1.24, 1980); 2.1 in Escondido (2.09, 1905); 1.63 in Campo (1.29, 1980); 1.5 in San Diego (1.25, 1866); 1.39 in Alpine (1.02, 1980); and 0.65 in Chula Vista (0.62, 1930).

By of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the county's 48-hour rainfall totals included 4.88 inches at Birch Hill; 3.63 at Boucher Hill; 3.45 in Mesa Grande; 3.4 in Skyline Ranch; 3.28 in Oak Grove; 3.22 in Bonsall; 3.2 at Henshaw Dam; 3.15 on Mount Woodson; 3.09 at Lake Cuyamaca; 2.8 in Fallbrook; 2.79 in Ramona; 2.76 in Pine Hills; 2.58 in Valley Center; 2.42 in Carlsbad; 2.38 in Santa Ysabel; 2.31 in Poway; 2.23 in Descanso and on Otay Mountain; 2.14 in Julian; and 2.02 in Harbison Canyon.

Among other two-day precipitation tallies were 1.89 inches in San Diego Country Estates; 1.83 on Volcan Mountain; 1.78 in the Granite Hills area; 1.77 in Kearny Mesa; 1.73 in University Heights; 1.68 at Montgomery Field airport and in Scripps Ranch; 1.67 on Mount Laguna; 1.62 in La Jolla; 1.61 in La Mesa and San Marcos; 1.54 in Santee; 1.51 in Mission Valley; 1.48 in Lakeside; 1.47 in Flinn Springs; 1.39 in El Cajon; 1.34 in Del Mar; 1.3 in Ranchita and San Ysidro; 1.29 in Mission Beach; 1.15 in Solana Beach; 0.96 in City Heights; 0.91 in Lemon Grove; 0.79 in San Onofre; 0.67 in Borrego Palm Canyon; 0.22 in Agua Caliente; and 0.12 in Ocotillo Wells.

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The downpours also prompted SeaWorld to shut down for the first time in nearly a year. The tourist destination, which last closed due to heavy rain on Feb. 27, was slated to reopen Wednesday, park spokesman David Koontz said.

In the South Bay, a landmark movie-house sign toppled over amid the windy deluge. The yellow-and-white, roughly three-story-tall structure atop the Bay Theatre -- featuring a giant "B," "A" and "Y," from top to bottom -- crashed down at some point during the night or early morning, landing on a sidewalk and breaking apart, National City Emergency Services Director Frank Parra said.

The partial collapse of the 1940s-era building, which in recent years has been home to a church congregation, caused no reported injuries, though it did force a road closure.

In Coronado, about 10 boats came free from their moorings amid the tempestuous conditions and drifted off into wind-whipped San Diego Bay, a city official said.

Over the morning, nearly 2,400 San Diego Gas & Electric customers found themselves without power in the coastal North County, including Cardiff-By-The-Sea, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Costa and Olivenhain.

Another 530 customers were without electrical service from three separate weather-related outages in San Diego and Chula Vista, and another four blackouts cut off power to about 1,000 addresses along the coast in La Jolla, just south of Escondido and in the Viejas area.

Flooding, mudslides errant boulders and other problems wreaked by the storm forced closures of various roads over the morning, including the 12000 block of Lemon Crest Drive in the Winter Gardens area; Mapleview Street at Pino Drive in Lakeside; Mussey Grade Road at Mahogany Ranch Road in Ramona; stretches of Bent Avenue and Via Vera Cruz in San Marcos; traffic lanes along the San Diego River near Fashion Valley mall; state Route 76 at Pala Mission Road in Pala; and National City Boulevard between Third and Fourth streets, due to the demise of the aged theater sign.

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Snow levels were expected to drop as low as 5,000 feet overnight, making influxes of frozen white flakes possible in the highest reaches of the county, meteorologists said.

A high-wind warning that went into effect at 6 a.m. for Julian, Pine Valley and Borrego Springs was set to expire at 10 p.m., and a less-serious wind advisory also was issued this morning for Carlsbad, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, La Mesa, National City, Poway, San Diego, Santee, Vista and San Marcos.

Among high wind readings over the morning were 73 mph on Boucher Hill; 71 mph on Palomar Mountain; 61 mph in the Coronado Cays; 60 mph on Mount Woodson; 57 mph at Lake San Marcos; 56 mph on Otay Mountain and in Valley Center; and 55 mph in Alpine Heights, Jamul, Shelter Island and the Silver Strand area.

San Diego city administrators urged the public to refrain from calling 911 for downed tree limbs and flooding unless the conditions constituted an emergency. Officials said non-critical public-works problems should be reported to the city's dispatch center at (619) 527-7500.

Megan's forecast calls for cool temperatures on Wednesday, but it won't last as high pressure builds Thursday with a warm-up continuing into Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.

Expect plenty of sunshine to end the week with temperatures back into the 70s along the coast by Friday and 80s this weekend inland, according to Megan's forecast.

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