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Powerful Storm To Hit San Diego Tonight

Forecasters say heavy rain is expected to begin drenching San Diego County early tonight and continue all day tomorrow. Will it cause flooding?
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A powerful Pacific storm could hit San Diego County as early as 6 p.m. Wednesday, drenching some areas with up to 4 inches of rain before it leaves.

"We're getting moisture out of Hawaii," NBC 7/39 forecaster Whitney Southwick said. "It's called the Pineapple Express."

The heaviest rainfall is expected overnight, with showers continuing all day Thursday before tapering off Friday, Southwick said. Coastal areas can expect between .75 and 1.5 inches of rain, with 2 to 5 inches falling in the foothills, he said.

A winter storm watch is being called for the mountains, Southwick said. Up to 10 inches of new snow could fall, with the snow level dropping to 5,000 feet, he said.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch throughout the county from 4 p.m. Wednesday until 10 a.m. Thursday.

"I have a lot of respect for this storm because it could cause a lot of damage," National Weather Service forecaster Ted Mackechnie said. "We expect it to be as strong or stronger than the storm we had on Sunday, with some strong southerly winds similar to what we had on Christmas."

Heavy downpours could cause some flooding and mudslides in the areas burned by the October wildfires, Southwick said. The soil on many denuded hillsides is still saturated from the weekend rains, he said.

The storm is also bringing high winds and rough surf, Southwick said. The NWS has issued a wind advisory beginning 2 p.m. Wednesday for mountain and desert areas. Winds from 30 to 40 mph are predicted, with gusts up to 60 mph.

Along the coast, waves up to 12 feet are predicted for south-facing beaches and up to 15-foot waves could hit west-facing beaches.

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