Winter arrived a week early in San Diego County on Tuesday as a super-charged storm produced hurricane force winds and drenching rains, soon to birth green shoots over the region’s drought-parched brown and blonde hills.
A column of moisture from the subtropics, known as an atmospheric river, was pulled into California by a cold, formidable Pacific storm. The effect soaked the Bay Area over the weekend before slumping down the state into Southern California. It unleashed its fury while the National Weather Service scrambled to fix its radar system.
Tuesday in San Diego began with fierce winds, gusting to 67 miles per hour through Red Beach Airport at Camp Pendleton and 88 miles per hour over Mount Laguna.

Then came the wet stuff.
Showers moved across the county’s inland mountains and to the coast. About 4.46 inches of precipitation had drenched Palomar Observatory, according to the weather service. Rainbow soaked up 2.32 inches by early afternoon, with Oceanside seeing 1.45 inches.
The San Diego International Airport got hit with 0.98 inches of rain, according to the weather service. With Tuesday’s storm, the site has now recorded more than 2 inches of precipitation this season — average for this time of year.
“This rain brought us back to where we should be in a normal year,” said Mark Moede, meteorologist with the weather service in San Diego. “You can see beneficial rain all throughout the state.”
The torrential downpour also brought power outages, flooding and may have contributed to at least one traffic fatality.
San Diego Gas & Electric reported that thousands of residents lost electricity Tuesday afternoon as a result of the storm. Carlsbad was hit particularly hard, with customers in La Mesa, Poway, Encinitas, San Marcos and elsewhere also suffering blackouts. Service was expected to be restored to most homes and businesses by 6:30 p.m.
Throughout downtown San Diego, Bankers Hill, Hillcrest and other neighborhoods, drivers maneuvered around water-filled potholes as well as wind-scattered palm fronds and tree branches.
An emergency crew rescued two people from a flood channel in Mission Valley shortly after 1 p.m.
The pair had been swept into water near the tank farm on Mission Center Road, according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue update posted to Twitter. The call to 911 came in just before 12:35 p.m. and officials said they had the San Diego Lifeguard River Rescue Team on scene in seven minutes.
Fire officials reported having both victims pulled from the water by 1:13 p.m. Both received medical attention.
The driver of an SUV was killed during a roll-over crash around 10:40 a.m. in Valley Center, where streets were slick with rain. The vehicle spun out on Valley Center Road, a mile south of Ridge Ranch Road, landing in a culvert. The man was found underneath the vehicle. He died at the scene.
Colder temperatures late in the evening are expected to turn the rain to snow at higher elevations. Forecasters said the peaks of Palomar Mountain and Mount Laguna could got between an inch and 2 inches of snow, while the San Bernardino Mountains got a foot of powder.
David Hernandez, Karen Kucher and Morgan Cook contributed to this report.
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