San Diego County to get foot of snow, heavy rain in 'full on' day of winter Tuesday

Tuesday’s weather forecast contains a sentence not often heard in San Diego County: We’re going to have a day of full-on winter.

A distinct river of uncommonly cold, moist air will flow through the region, bringing heavy snow to parts of Mount Laguna and Palomar Mountain, and about half as much to some lower elevations.

The mountain peaks could wind up with a foot of snow between late Monday and late Tuesday, while areas like Julian could get a half-foot, said the National Weather Service.

The snow could fall to the 2,500 foot level, where it would mix with the cold rain, producing a Slurpee-like mixture in places like Alpine and Pine Hills.

“The snow, rain and wind might be enough to close eastern Interstate 8 on Tuesday,” said Alex Tardy, a weather service forecaster. “That doesn’t happen a lot.”

The rest of the county will receive sporadic and sometimes heavy rain, with San Diego getting as much as an inch by late Tuesday night.

The city has already fared well this winter. Through noon on Monday, San Diego International Airport had recorded about 8 inches of rain for the season — just 2.3 inches lower than it averages in an entire year.

And it shows. The grass along local freeways has turned greener than an Irish meadow. A year ago ,the grass resembled bleached hay.

Tuesday also will be cold — at least by San Diego standards.

The daytime high temperature isn’t likely to rise above the mid-50s in San Diego. Ramona and Escondido won’t climb out of the 40s. Julian will be in the mid-30s, and the temperature will drop to 23 by dawn Wednesday.

On the upside, this latest jolt of rain and snow will greatly reduce the danger of wildfires, at least for a few months.

Sample of four-day rainfall totals as of 8:47 a.m. Monday

Palomar Mountain: (Birch Hill): 5.60 inches

Palomar Observatory: 4.10 inches

Bonsall: 3.70 inches

Oceanside: 3.10 inches

Henshaw Dam: 3.10 inches

Fallbrook: 3.00 inches

Rainbow: 2.90 inches

Pine Hills: 2.90 inches

Skyline Ranch: 2.70 inches

Julian: 2.70 inches

Santee: 2.60 inches

Miramar Lake: 2.50 inches

Ramona: 2.40 inches

Carlsbad: 2.30 inches

Valley Center: 2.30 inches

Rancho Bernardo: 2.20 inches

Lake Wohlford: 2.10 inches

Escondido: 2.10 inches

La Mesa: 2.10 inches

Fashion Valley: 2.10 inches

San Diego Country Estates: 2.00 inches

San Onofre: 1.90 inches

San Marcos: 1.90 inches

San Diego International Airport: 1.80 inches

Lake Murray: 1.80 inches

Pine Valley: 1.80 inches

Alpine: 1.80 inches

San Ysidro: 1.70 inches

Montgomery Field: 1.70 inches

Brown Field: 1.60 inches

Solana Beach: 1.40 inches

Campo: 1.30 inches

Source: NWS

Copyright © 2019, © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.