San Diego to see Thanksgiving storm with holiday travel near record high

Posted at 12:22 PM, Nov 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-23 15:25:17-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego County started the rainfall season in October bone dry, but now the region is getting ready for another storm in time for Thanksgiving.

San Diego's weekend will be great, cooling down on Monday before the storm arrives. Winds will pick up on Tuesday. Then, the surf will increase along the coast before the Thanksgiving storm arrives.

The atmospheric river will potentially set up the stage for heavy rain, flash flooding, and thunderstorms during the major winter storm. Rainfall totals could average from 3-5 inches for the coast and valleys and 4-8 inches in the mountains. Snow levels will start out high around 8,000 feet.


Cold air will settle in Friday with snow levels dropping to 3,500 feet. That means snow could fall in Julian, Palomar, Mt. Laguna, and even Descanso. The best chance for snow will be Thursday and Friday.

The chance of rain will begin late Tuesday, lasting through Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

Often times San Diego is the envy of the nation, especially during the holiday. The region's warmest Thanksgiving happened in 2017, hitting 87 degrees. Last year the holiday took a chilly turn, plunging down to 58 degrees — just 4 degrees shy of San Diego's coldest Thanksgiving in 1919.

Last year, San Diego also picked up 0.04 inches of light rain. The wettest Thanksgiving in San Diego's history received 1.26 inches in 2008, but the expected winter system this week could challenge that record.

Traveling this Thanksgiving

The expected wet weather is especially important to consider, as this holiday expects to see the highest Thanksgiving volume on record for California travelers. The holiday will also be the second-highest travel volume nationally since 2000, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

AAA says about 7 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving. Of that number, about 4.3 million are from Southern California.

Of those Southern Californians, 3.7 million will travel by car, 500,000 by aircraft, and 123,800 will use other modes of transportation, like buses or cruise ships.


With the influx or drivers, thousands of expected to run into problems on the road, according to AAA. The Auto Club says about 100,000 Californians and 368,000 nationwide will need roadside assistance for things like flat tires, dead batteries, or lockouts.

"This is the fourth Thanksgiving holiday period in a row that the percentage growth in air travel for Californians is higher than the growth in car travel, indicating continued consumer confidence in spending more for holiday trips," said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. "That's despite an average 7 percent increase in airfares over last year."

AAA says the top five destinations for Southern California residents will be Las Vegas, San Diego, Mexico (cruises and resorts), the Grand Canyon and Lake Tahoe.