A powerful holiday storm, the second to hit San Diego County this week, dumped inches of snow in San Diego’s mountains, forcing the California Highway Patrol to close down a major freeway as locals flocked east.
The closure of eastbound Interstate 8 near the Viejas Casino was just one of the many effects of the fast-moving storm that dumped about an inch of rain in a matter of hours before daybreak Thursday.
The freeway reopened just after 11 a.m. but two other routes that connect the rest of the county to their snowy mountains — eastbound state Routes 78 and 79 in Santa Ysabel — remained closed.
Elsewhere in the San Diego, the storm toppled trees, flooded streets and caused vehicles to spin out. Law enforcement responded to crashes and water rescues amid the heaviest downpours.
The National Weather Service reported snow sticking to the ground in Ramona, which has an elevation of about 2,000 feet. At about 4,000 feet, Pine Valley was topped with about two inches of snow before 8 a.m. The higher elevation peaks of Palomar and Mount Laguna likely received about 10 inches of snow.
While the thought of seeing a winter wonderland was likely to draw crowds east, CHP warned drivers to avoid heading to the mountains Thursday.
Chain requirements were also issued for the following roadways:
- Palomar Mountain above 2,500 feet
- Mount Laguna above 5,000 feet
- Ranchita Area starting at the 8-mile marker
Law enforcement and rescue crews across the were at the ready for any problems that arose as the brunt of the storm swept from west to east starting at about midnight.
And with that amount of heavy rainfall, problems did arise.
In National City, a power outage was caused when a large tree fell onto powerlines and at least two vehicles in a neighborhood at 30th Street and D Avenue.
A branch several inches wide tore through the windshield of one vehicle and the taillight was crushed of another.
It was not clear how many people were without power at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, but National City police said at least one traffic light was out as a result. San Diego Gas & Electric was responding to repair damaged lines.
The storm also caused several roadways to flood, including two roadways that are often shut down amid heavy rain — Quarry Road in Spring Valley, what is known as Country Club Dip in the Harmony Grove area. Several roads in North County’s Rainbow and San Marcos areas were also closed due to flooding, the San Diego County Department of Public Works (DPW) said.
For more road closures and warnings, visit the DPW’s Twitter.
In Mission Valley, a woman needed to be pulled from a flooded underpass at Camina de la Reina. Several inches of water accumulated below the underpass, prompting crews to close the road to traffic.
Several problems were also reported on soaked roadways, especially during the morning commute hours.
On Interstate 5 near Via de la Valle, a semi-truck jackknifed on the wet roadways and nearly flipped onto its side, causing a fuel spill on southbound lanes. The crash forced a temporary closure of the freeway.
Heavy downpours were expected to last through about 10 a.m. and taper off significantly from there, leaving just a chance of scattered showers for the rest of the day Thursday. The storm should clear by Friday.