SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the very northeastern corner of San Diego County and the northern Salton Sea Saturday, as the first of several bands of rain, thunder and lightning moved into the Coachella Valley this weekend.
National Weather Service radar showed a severe thunderstorm 11 miles south of Coachella, moving to the northwest at 5 miles per hour. It was expected to arrive in Coachella by about 2:30 p.m.
Saturday's storm was a harbinger of what may come Sunday, as Tropical Storm Ivo's remnants were predicted to possibly soak East County's deserts and mountains, and the rest of Southeast California, through Monday.
Meteorologists have placed the center of tropical Storm Ivo a little further to the west of Baja California, meaning the chances for heavy thunderstorms in the mountains and deserts of Riverside County on Sunday are a little bit better, a forecaster said Saturday.
Recreationists in the Borrego Springs and Ocotillo Wells areas were advised that washes might fill up quickly Sunday.
Storm models published by the National Hurricane Center in Miami show all sorts of possible paths for the tropical storm, which has top winds of 45 miles per hour and bands of embedded heavy rain and thunderstorms.
"What we are concerned about is the high potential for precipitation in the mountains of San Diego and Riverside counties," said NWS forecaster Eric Watkins in San Diego.
"There's enough moisture as it comes into Southern California and southwest Arizona to cause intense localized rainfall and flash floods," he told City News Service.
"Outdoorsy people need to be alert to this danger, particularly Sunday afternoon," he said.
Flash flood watches were posted for Sunday for eastern San Diego County, the Coachella Valley, the Colorado River Valley and as far east as Phoenix and north as the Grand Canyon area.
As of 8 a.m. Saturday, the center of the compact, subtropical low pressure system was about 225 miles west of Cabo San Lucas, and it was moving north-northwest at 12 mph.
Models posted by the Weather Underground web site showed potential paths heading up the western Baja coast, and then turning east, turning west, or heading straight up into eastern San Diego and Riverside counties.
Tropical storm warnings were posted by the NWS Saturday from the southern tip of Baja north to Punta Abreojos, near the Baja/Baja Sur state line, or about 370 miles south-southeast of San Diego. Tropical storm watches were issued from there north to near Ensenada, about 70 miles south of the border.
"We still think its general path will be to the north," Watkins told CNS. "The biggest thing is that the public needs to keep an ear out for flash flooding tomorrow and Monday, especially people around creeks or washes,"
Watkins said the cool air over the Pacific west of California should damper any westward movement of the thunderstorms to the coastline.