Heavy rainfall wreaks havoc throughout San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Heavy rainfall wreaks havoc throughout San Diego; storm expected to weaken Wednesday

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The strongest downpours yet from a six-day storm pounded the saturated San Diego area Wednesday, flooding homes and businesses, trapping guests at a hotel and hampering transportation throughout the region.

The unusually wet atmospheric pattern, which arrived Friday and was expected to weaken Wednesday afternoon and evening, saved its most intense cloudbursts for last. The steady morning drenching caused the San Diego River to overflow in Mission Valley and the Tijuana River to likewise swell past its banks in the far southern reaches of the county.

By midmorning, Qualcomm Stadium's playing field and much of its huge parking lot were underwater. Several miles away, about 50 people were trapped by water about three feet deep at the Premier Inn on Hotel Circle Place, just north of Interstate 8.

At 9 a.m., the San Diego River was more than two feet above flood level, according to the National Weather Service.

Lifeguards used inflatable rescue vessels to evacuate the stranded hotel guests, some of whom reported non-life-threatening health problems, including trouble breathing and issues with diabetes and heart disease. Several pregnant women also were among those trapped at the drenched inn.

The boats were attached to a nylon tether that the personnel pulled back and forth across the swollen river, whose flows were so powerful they dragged a few commercial garbage bins away, said Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Medics transported two of the evacuees to a hospital for evaluations.

Over the morning, city public safety personnel also came to the rescue of people stuck in buildings and cars in other parts of Mission Valley, as well as in Sorrento Valley, lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum said.

In rural areas around the Tijuana River, which also breached its banks this morning, ranchers and other livestock owners had been urged earlier in the week to move their animals and families to higher ground. Despite the flooding in those areas just north of the Mexican border, no serious problems were reported.

The prolonged storm has dumped upwards of 6 1/2 inches of moisture along the coast, more than 8 inches in some inland valley communities and in excess of 13 inches certain mountain locales, according to the weather service.

A flash-flood watch and a countywide high-wind alert were scheduled to remain in effect through mid-afternoon.

The relentless showers harried motorists for yet another day, along with commuters who rely on mass transit.

Coaster and Amtrak train service between Oceanside and San Diego was canceled for the day due to flooding in Sorrento Valley and debris in Encinitas. Crews will have to wait for the water to recede so they can inspect the tracks for safety, according to Alex Wiggins, a spokesman for North County Transit District.

Between midnight ant noon, the California Highway Patrol logged 124 accidents in the San Diego area. By comparison, the agency typically responds to 50-75 crashes over a full day of fair weather.

The storm also resulted in partial or full closures of dozens of roadways. Though the morning, the CHP reported partial or full closures of the following streets and highways:

-- northbound Interstate 5 at Gilman Drive, due to tree blocking two lanes;

-- State Route 76 at Valley Center Road, because of large rocks in the roadway;

-- Valley Center Road at Thundernut Lane, boulders in the roadway;

-- Stage Coach Lane at Brooke Road, 6 to 12 inches of water and boulders in the roadway;

-- State Route 79 at Rainbow Road, road closed due to mud slide;

-- Old Castle Road just east of Champagne Boulevard and at Pamoosa Lane, roadway closed due to mud and rock slide;

-- Camino Del Rey just west of Via Maria Elena, roadway flooding;

-- Lake Wohlford Road at Oakvale Road;

-- Lake Wohlford Road at Valley Center Road;

-- Carmel Mountain Road onramp to northbound Interstate 5, flooding;

-- Central Avenue between Sweetwater and Bonita roads, flooding;

-- Interstate 5 HOV lanes;

-- Northbound Twin Oaks Valley at Solar Lane, roadway flooding;

-- Wildcat Canyon Road at Willow and San Vicente, due to flooding;

-- North River Road, just west of state Route 76, flooding; and

-- eastbound state Route 78 at El Camino Real, more flooding.

Other streets that were closed but reopened as the morning went on were:

-- westbound state Route 76 at Interstate 15, flooding;

-- eastbound state Route 76 at Gird Road, flooding;

-- westbound state Route 78 between Interstate 5 and El Camino Real;

-- northbound Interstate 5 on Sorrento Valley offramp, end of ramp flooded; and

-- State Route 76 just west of Mission Road, roadway flooding.

The county Office of Emergency Services advised San Diego-area residents to keep abreast of the progress of the storm by:

-- monitoring local television and radio stations for flood warnings

-- getting the latest forecast details from the National Weather Service at www.nws.gov/sandiego

-- knowing how to shut off electricity at the home fuse panel and gas at the meter

-- avoiding downed power lines, broken glass and flooded roads

-- getting information about road closures at http://sdcdpw.org/emergency

For those who need to protect their homes or businesses from possible floodwaters, free sandbags are available at the following facilities:

-- Cal Fire Station 73, 28205 N. Lake Wohlford Road, Valley Center

-- Cal Fire Station 7, 16971 State Route 76, Valley Center

-- Cal Fire Station 50, 1587 State Route 78, Julian

-- Cal Fire Mount Woodson Station, 16310 State Route 67, Ramona

-- North County Fire Protection District Station 4, 4375 Pala Mesa Drive, Fallbrook

-- Cal Fire Station 30, 17304 Highway 94, Dulzura

-- Kit Carson Park Amphitheater, 3333 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido

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