Strong fall storm douses San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Strong fall storm douses San Diego

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CNS) - A powerful autumn storm drenched the region today, bringing plenty of much-needed rain -- including a record amount at Lindbergh Field -- along with mountain snow, tree-toppling high winds and some typical rainy-day commuter chaos.

The blustery front was "different from the weak systems we've been having," according to National Weather Service forecaster Noel Isla.

"This is a good one," Isla said.

Storms frequently weaken by the time they reach the region, but this one made a "direct hit" on Southern California, which often gets only the tail end of inclement weather systems, Isla noted.

By 4 p.m., the dark clouds had dropped 1.38 inches of rain at Lindbergh Field, topping the previous record for a Dec. 7 of 1.15 inches, set in 1992, the NWS reported.

Over a 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m., the storm dropped 4.29 inches of precipitation in the Cuyamaca area, 3.77 inches in Agua Caliente, 3.06 in Julian, 2.46 in Santa Ysabel, 1.99 in Kearny Mesa, 1.9 at Brown Field, 1.86 in Bonita, 1.59 in Poway, 1.51 at Rincon Springs, 1.09 in Encinitas and 0.62 in Ramona, the NWS reported.

The East County highlands went white with blankets of snow that accumulated throughout the day. The frozen drifts were expected to extend down to altitudes around 4,500 feet.

The showers had immediate and all-too-predictable impacts on local traffic. Between midnight and 5 p.m., the California Highway Patrol logged 391 accidents in the San Diego area, as compared with the 50-75 collisions the agency typically responds to during an entire day of dry weather.

The stiff winds and downpours also flooded roadways, downed trees and contributed to power outages that left tens of thousands of homes and businesses without electricity over the day, officials said.

The NWS scheduled a high wind warning from 3 p.m. to midnight in coastal and valley areas, and from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday in the mountains and deserts.

Due to potential pollution hazards from runoff, the county Department of Environmental Health issued a routine ocean-contamination warning, advising people to stay out of the surf for at least 72 hours following showers.

The storm will move out of the area Tuesday, but more rain clouds could arrive Thursday or Friday, according to the weather service.

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