SAN DIEGO — Winter storms for relatively dry San Diego are hit or miss, but mostly miss, so a wall of rain in California's second-largest city Monday on the Pacific Front surprised even those expecting rain.
It was the third of three Pacific storms to hit the West Coast since Friday, with the first passing the region and the second producing relatively warm rain of only a third of an inch. It was a city that got away from it Punished by a third stormIt was predicted to be strong.
It was San Diego's wettest January day on record, according to the National Weather Service.
Tijuana and other parts of northern Baja California were hit hard. At least eight migrants were rescued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and San Diego Fire Department rescue crews when they were in danger from flooding in the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side. Officials said.
Residents in the Southcrest neighborhood southeast of downtown were rescued by firefighters as water quickly engulfed their apartments, according to officials and coverage. NBC San Diego. No injuries were reported.
Navy Base San Diego, south of downtown, reported flooding early in the morning as a dense cell of rainfall moved through the area and put several streets and Interstate 15 into Las Vegas under enough water that they were effectively closed.
Crews at the base had to stay sheltered as they tried to move incoming and outgoing traffic to areas of the base temporarily not connected to nearby San Diego Bay, Navy officials said.
Mayor Todd Gloria declared a state of emergency “due to extreme rainfall and flash flooding.” He is SHelp. He asked residents and visitors to stay off the roads on Monday. Schools in nearby La Mesa and Spring Valley announced classroom closures Tuesday.
Flooding occurred in typical locations, including Mission Valley, where many roads were impassable, and Ocean Beach, where beachgoers did not need to go into the ocean to swim.
In the northern tip of San Diego County, State Route 78 was closed east of the city of Oceanside due to flooded lanes. The eastbound lanes were closed Monday night, according to the California Department of Transportation.
The storm pulled moisture from the Pacific to form an atmospheric river, a scene the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls “rivers in the sky,” a scene that was uniform across the region, producing once-in-a-generation effects.
The storm echoed the demise of El Niño in 1983 or 1998 — classic years for the rainy weather event that brought widespread flooding, substantial surf and even weeks of snow to Southern California.
Monday's storm veered off the coast and hit northern Baja California, giving San Diego a glimpse but still a strong blow, NWS meteorologist Brandt Maxwell said.
The long tail jet stream, a permanent feature that usually targets storms to the north, is linked to unstable winds made up of warmer atmosphere colliding with cooler climes, Maxwell said. Together those elements raised the storm of the day.
Maxwell noted that the only thing missing was strong winds.
San Diego's rainfall has been below normal this season, which began on October 1. But this single storm brought the city slightly above normal for the year, Maxwell said.
Half of the rainy season is still here, with an average annual rainfall of nearly 10 inches. The storm brought enough rain to San Diego to keep its season-to-date total to less than 5 inches this season, Maxwell said.
The Southern California coast would need more days like this to continue on a normal track or produce above-normal rainfall, justifying predictions for a rainy El Niño year in California.
A high needle-moving rainfall is rare in late March. Storms are often the last, as in January.
“At least in the short term, it doesn't look like totality is on the horizon for Southern California,” Maxwell said.