SAN DIEGO (CNS) - More blustery, wet winter weather drenched the already saturated San Diego area Wednesday, ushering in a messy morning commute and forcing scattered road closures but not causing any serious damage, authorities reported.
The storm -- a not-so-welcome encore to last week's torrential rains, which led to widespread flooding and mudslides -- arrived out of the northwest around dawn.
By late morning, the steady showers had submerged a stretch of Quarry Road in Spring Valley, southbound Interstate 15 at Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard, Equitation Lane at Plaza Bonita Road and the Carmel Mountain Road entrance to northbound Interstate 5.
Much of Qualcomm Stadium's giant parking lot also wound up under water, but, unlike last week, not its playing field -- a relief to the planners of the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, set for Thursday evening at the Mission Valley arena.
In Oceanside, city crews scrambled to patch a roughly 10-foot-deep, 3- foot-wide sinkhole that opened up on El Camino Real near Vista Rey, damaging a patrol vehicle that drove over it in the late morning, according to police. The officer behind the wheel was not injured, Lt. Leonard Mata said.
About 3 p.m., a large tree succumbed to the whipping winds and soggy ground, dropping across the northbound lanes of Torrey Pines Road, near Dunaway Drive in La Jolla, according to San Diego police.
The city issued a traffic alert for the area while crews were en route to cut up and haul off the fallen eucalyptus, San Diego Police Department Lt. Andra Brown said.
Other storm-related traffic problems over the afternoon included another toppled tree on Rock Mountain Road at Sandia Creek Drive in De Luz, near Camp Pendleton; fully flooded-out lanes in the 2700 block of South Grade Road in the Alpine area; and a downed power line on Proctor Valley Road at San Miguel Road in Bonita, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Additionally, Caltrans closed a several-mile stretch of carpool lanes on Interstate 15 between state Route 163 in Scripps Ranch and state Route 56 in Carmel Mountain about 2:30 p.m. due to flooding in a construction zone along the regional route.
Between midnight and 5 p.m., the CHP logged 150 accidents on local freeways and rural roads. In fair weather, by comparison, the agency typically responds to between 50 and 75 crashes over a full day.
Snowfall, meanwhile, was whitening the East County highlands, mostly above the 5,000-foot level, according to the National Weather Service. Few of the back-country locales were likely to get more than a thin "dusting," meteorologist Brandt Maxwell said.
The storm prompted the weather service to issue several high-wind warnings -- one for the region's mountain communities through early Thursday morning, and the other for Lindbergh Field, effective starting at 3 p.m. The latter was canceled after about two hours due to rapidly improving conditions.
The U.S. Coast Guard's San Diego station urged mariners to exercise extreme caution if venturing on or near the water through Thursday morning, due to possible gale-force winds and a high-surf advisory.
Wave heights could increase to 10 feet this evening along west-facing beaches, with gusts and "wind chop" possibly adding more than three additional feet, the federal maritime agency advised.
By 5 p.m., the dissipating wet clouds had dropped 1.89 inches of precipitation in the Birch Hill area of inland North County; 1.85 at Cuyamaca Reservoir; 1.73 in Descanso; 1.5 in Julian; 1.49 at Lake Henshaw; 1.46 at Palomar Observatory; 1.21 in Escondido; 1.18 in Bonsall; 1.14 in Potrero; 1.12 in Santa Ysabel; 1.07 in Santee; and 1.06 in Campo.
Over the same period, the storm shed 0.95 of an inch of rain in La Mesa; 0.87 in Oceanside and the Granite Hills area of El Cajon; 0.85 in Rancho Bernardo; 0.79 at Mount Laguna; 0.76 in Ramona; 0.75 in Carlsbad and Dulzura; 0.67 in Encinitas; 0.59 in Mission Valley; 0.56 at Brown Field airport; 0.47 in San Ysidro; and 0.46 in the area of Lindbergh Field.
The showers should continue in a dwindling in a "hit or miss" fashion throughout the region tonight before petering out completely early Thursday morning, probably before sunrise, according to Brandt. Partly cloudy and chillier conditions should then prevail into the New Year's weekend, the meteorologist said.
More rain is possible late Sunday and Monday, according to the weather service.
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