A heavy portion of rain with a side of gusty winds and snowfall for dessert is on the menu for San Diego County’s Thanksgiving.
The first sign of showers reached North County communities like Oceanside, Carlsbad and Julian just before 1 p.m. Wednesday and continued to push southeast, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
By Thursday morning, several coastal and valley, areas, like Carlsbad, San Onofre, Poway, and Valley Center averaged a half-inch of rainfall.
The county’s mountains, like Lake Cuyamaca, received 0.85 inches of rain.
Other areas, like La Jolla, San Ysidro, Alpine, Ramona, La Mesa, and Miramar received about a quarter-inch of precipitation. In places like Fashion Valley, Oceanside, and Escondido pushed that average to about a third-inch.
During the storm’s three-day stint over the Southern California region, San Diego could see more than three inches of rain and up to six inches of snow, NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said.
The impact could be dangerous for drivers on what AAA predicts will be the busiest travel holiday in 14 years.
Several watches and warnings were issued as the storm moved in to San Diego County.
A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for the coast, inland valleys and foothills until late Thursday night. Parts of the county could see up to two inches during the cold front, according to the NWS.
Coastal flooding is also possible as higher-than-usual tides, commonly known as king tides, hit the shore through Thursday. Imperial Beach had signs posted warning residents of potential flooding.
A Winter Storm Warning and a Winter Weather Advisory are in effect through Thursday.
The storm warning, which lasts until 10 p.m. Friday, predicts strong gusts of winds and snowfall in San Diego’s mountainous regions. The weather advisory, which lasts until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, warns of a few inches of snow in the high desert areas.
During this time, visibility will be reduced and tree branches and power lines may be damaged, so please drive carefully.
“That will cause a big mess across (Interstate 8) near Pine Valley, so hazardous travel,” Parveen said, even suggesting to avoid the area altogether until the snow passes.
A Wind Advisory for the coastal and valley areas is in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday, the NWS said. Winds can reach speeds of up to 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph near the coast.
The NWS issued a Beach Hazards Statement through Friday morning, as waves may reach up to 6 feet.
With this may come minor coastal flooding in the mornings. NWS also warned people to avoid swimming in the waters due to the strong rip currents and possibility of lightning.
To learn more about the weather watches and warnings in San Diego County, click here.
While Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times for travel all year, it’s also one of the deadliest, the California Highway Patrol warned. The CHP said it would ramp up enforcement due to the winter weather.
“For those three days we will be in ‘Weather Alert’ around here, travel will be hazardous,” Parveen said in NBC 7’s First Alert Weather forecast. “Thanksgiving Day itself looks very messy travel-wise.”
The most damaging rain was expected on Thursday. The NWS said the areas of Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Chula Vista, National City, San Diego Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, La Mesa, Santee, and Poway should be on alert.
Several locations were handing out free sandbags to help residents protect their property.
Families in one section of University Heights were loading up on sandbags because they say layers on top of layers of new pavement on their street have shortened the curbs, and now heavy rain sends water gushing into their yards and homes.
But rain isn’t the only weather expected to make a Thanksgiving appearance: The holiday is expected to bring snow with it.
The California Highway Patrol reminded snow seekers that trespassing on private property to enjoy fresh snow is illegal.
Mountains as low as 3,000 feet could see up to 3 inches of snow, while mountains above 4,000 feet could receive up to 8 inches, Parveen said. Ranges above 5,500 feet could get more than a foot of snow.
Drivers were urged to check mountain road conditions before heading out and to travel with an emergency supply kit. While no snow tire requirements were issued as of Monday, it was a possibility once the storm hits.
The county isn’t expected to dry up until late Friday and some lingering showers and cold weather could stretch into the weekend. Drier conditions are expected next week, Parveen said.