Source: Valley Roadrunner

From drought to drenched

by SUSAN MISH Valley Roadrunner Correspondant

March 06, 2014

More than 1,300 Valley Center residents lost power when a strong, slow-moving Pacific storm moved through the area last weekend. Roadways were flooded, trees were reported down and boulders and tree limbs were scattered across stretches of streets and highways throughout Valley Center and the surrounding area according to California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The storm moved into the area overnight Friday, making driving treacherous and creating numerous crashes on county streets and highways.

By noon on Saturday, 236 collisions on highways were reported by the CHP. By 6 p.m. CHP officers had responded to 452 traffic collisions. This number compares with 50 to 75 crashes averaging on a day without rain according to CHP officer Robert Catano who described the day as being extremely eventful for CHP officers.

“It’s been a very, very busy day out there,” said Catano. “Officers are just jumping from call to call.”

One of the most serious accidents occurred on Friday night when a tractor-trailer jackknifed, broad siding a pickup that was hydroplaning on south Interstate 15 at State Route 78. The accident blocked lanes of traffic and multiple injuries were reported.

“The crash was reported at 5:50 p.m. and all of the closed lanes were open again at 7 p.m.,” said CHP officer Mary Bailey.

Most of the collisions involved spinouts due to drivers traveling too fast for the conditions according to CHP officer Tommy Doerr.

“Despite the high number of collisions, no serious injuries have been reported,” Doerr said.

Due to the rain, Hurricanes soccer tryouts moved back a week to March 8.

“Much of the rain that occurred with the storms early in the month was in the northern half of the state with only very small amounts getting down into the Los Angeles and San Diego area,” Ken Clark Accuweather meteorologist said in an e-mail.

Rainfall amounts from the storm prevented this from being the driest winter on record.

“The storm helped ease the drought, but it won’t bring rainfall up to seasonal averages,” said Rancho Bernardo weather service forecaster Brandt Maxwell.

San Diego County was poised to record the driest December through February since the 1800’s before the storm hit on Friday, the last day of February. When the weather system surged into Southern California dumping massive rainfall on the area, the record ultimately held.

Along with heavy rainfall, the storm brought wailing winds. Strong wind gusts were responsible for knocking down the tower of the South Grade Road Palomar Mountain Fire Department and blowing off one of the doors to the building.

“This won’t be the storm of the century, but it will be one to remember,” said weather forecaster Tina Stall.

The rain trailed off early Sunday. The weather service predicted the region will fall back into another warm dry spell.

The National Weather Service initially announced the prime target of the system was North County but instead the entire county received widespread showers covering the length of California. The system dumped 5.36 inches of rain on Palomar Mountain. Forecasters said the two-day rainfall could total nearly three inches in inland valleys and foothills. A flash-flood watch advisory was in effect until 2 a.m. Sunday according to the weather service.

Prior to the storm, free sand and bags were provided at California Fire Station 73 at 28205 North Lake Wohlford Road, Valley Center and at the Pauma Valley-Rincon Fire Station 70 located at 16971 Highway 76, Valley Center.

During heavy rains, some culverts and drains are clogged with debris washed down from upstream or illegally dumped by the roadside. Also during prolonged rains, many low water crossings flooded, mostly in narrow, steep canyon areas.

San Diego County Flood Control District has provided tips in the interest of public safety during flooding:

• When closed road signs are posted, do not go around the signs.

• Do not attempt to cross flooded roadways when you cannot see pavement under the water because there is no assurance the pavement is still there.

• An automobile with occupants can be swept off the roadway and downstream even with a small amount of water at the right velocity.

• During and immediately after heavy rainfall, do not go near creeks, streams, or storm channels.

• Do not allow your children to sled down hillsides or into the roadway, possibly into oncoming traffic.

• Check out the roadways before you travel.