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Traffic Takes Rain's Brunt; Spot Showers Are Expected

November 05, 1987|KATHIE BOZANICH | Times Staff Writer

A highly volatile storm will continue to course through San Diego County today, after creating havoc during Wednesday evening's commute and again worrying forestry officials on Palomar Mountain.

The instability of the storm prompted thundershowers, gusty winds, and even a greenish tint to the sky at one point Wednesday afternoon, much like what is seen before funnel clouds and tornado strikes, according to Mike Smith of WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times.

"It's not likely, though not impossible, San Diego would get a funnel cloud due to this storm," Smith said. "This is the type of pattern that produces funnel clouds, with very, very unstable conditions mixing with some cold air in the upper atmosphere."

Traffic 'Has Been Wild'

The showers arrived Wednesday just as most San Diegans were ending their workday, causing minor traffic problems on all area freeways but no major incidents, authorities said.

The Wednesday evening commute "has been wild," California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Katie Nielsen said. "Lots of fender-benders, some overturned cars; it's just a mess."

Though the brunt of the storm is expected to pass San Diego by late this afternoon, some clouds and lingering showers will remain through Friday, according to National Weather Service forecaster Wilbur Shigehara.

"This storm does not bring us steady rain, like last weekend's storm, but a showery-type, on-and-off rain," he said. "It contains some heavy bursts and could bring as much as three-quarters of an inch of rain to a certain area in one hour's time."

Palomar Mountain a Concern

Forestry officials were again casting a watchful eye toward Palomar Mountain, where a fire in early October blackened more than 16,000 acres; any heavy rain would make mud slides a virtual certainty.

"We're just hoping it holds," California Department of Forestry spokeswoman Chris Hess said. "We've been lucky so far, but all we can do is keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't slide all over the place."

Storm rainfall totals were expected to reach between a quarter inch to a half inch along the coast, half an inch to one inch inland, and 2 inches in the mountains, Shigehara said.

The storm can again be traced to the Gulf of Alaska, the same site of origin as last weekend's storm, which dumped about three-quarters of an inch of rain on San Diego.

This storm was originally expected to move into the area Tuesday but briefly stalled about 200 miles off the coast, Shigehara said.

"Storms from the gulf have a habit of stalling off the coast," he said. "This one just managed to come in a day late is all."

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