San Diego County mountains could get 1.5 feet of snow by early Wednesday

Julian is expected to receive snow late Tuesday and early Wednesday

Julian is expected to receive snow late Tuesday and early Wednesday
(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Fast moving Pacific storm also will bring rain, fierce winds, hail and maybe lightning


Palomar Mountain and Mount Laguna are likely to receive 12 inches to 18 inches of snow by early Wednesday from a late winter storm that began moving ashore in San Diego County on Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service reported at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday that it had received reports that electrical power was flickering in the Birch Hill area of Palomar Mountain, possibly due to tree branches hitting power lines. It was snowing hard.

The National Weather Service says snow will fall all the way down to the 3,000 foot level along eastern Interstate 8, where it could mix with 40 mph to 60 mph winds, potentially causing white-out conditions in spots between Alpine and Boulevard.

There’s a small chance the snow will drop to 2,300 feet, dusting Viejas Casino off I-8.

The storm also will cause hazardous driving conditions along State Route 79 between Alpine and Julian, where the wind gusted to 55 mph on Tuesday.

Forecasters say that hail and graupel are likely to fall across many inland areas, and that thunderstorms are possible due to the instability of the storm.

Coastal areas will generally receive from 0.40 inches to 0.60 inches of rain by dawn Wednesday, while inland communities like Escondido get 0.75 inches to 1.00 inches. Some valley areas could get 1.15 inches.

Seasonal rainfall is running more than 2 inches below average in many areas, including San Diego.

“(The storm) is going to move through quick; we’ll have sunshine by Thursday morning,” said Adam Roser, a weather service forecaster.

The storm was centered over the Central Valley at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. It’s expected to be over Las Vegas by 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

Sample of top wind speeds through 1:30 p.m. Tuesday:

Volcan Mountain: 66 mph
Harrison Park: 59 mph
Julian: 55 mph
Boulevard: 55 mph
Ranchita: 54 mph
Borrego Springs: 53 mph
Crestwood: 47 mph
Oak Grove: 47 mph
East Warners: 43 mph
Lake Cuyamaca: 41 mph

Source: NWS