Tropical Storm Kay hits California with a crash

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By Alexandra E. Petri

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Tropical Storm Kay brought scorching temperatures, intense rain and winds topping 100 mph to parts of Southern California, raising concerns about coastal flooding and landslides in fire zones.

The storm system hitting the northern coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula is expected to bring heavy rain, flash flooding, high winds and humid conditions through at least Saturday.

Kay was about 200 miles off the San Diego coast Friday morning, said Miguel Miller, a meteorologist with the San Diego office of the National Weather Service. The bureau issued a series of advisories about the impending storm.

“We don’t have a snow blizzard warning, but that’s about all we don’t have,” Miller said.

The rain was scattered across San Diego County in the morning and showers were expected to reach Riverside and Orange counties before noon and San Bernardino in the afternoon, the weather service said. Heavy rain with possible thunderstorms could begin Friday afternoon.

San Diego has been the hardest hit so far, with rain and winds up to 109 mph.

Winds gusted from 60 mph to over 100 mph, stressing power lines and toppling trees from Valley Center to Alpine. Roads clogged and some school districts closed for the day. The maximum wind speed was recorded at 109 mph at Cuyamaca Peak, about nine miles south of Julian.

But the temperatures began to drop before noon. And the winds will soon lose some of their punch. The National Weather Service said Kay, which was about 140 miles south of San Diego at noon on Friday, was about to turn left into the Pacific and crash after an impressive run along the coast. of Baja California.

Forecasters say the storm’s moisture could still end up dropping about an inch of rain on the coast, double that in the valleys, 3 to 4 inches in Julian and 5 to 7 inches in the mountains. Mount Laguna has already received 2 inches of precipitation and juicy clouds were rolling in East County Friday afternoon.

The rain could disrupt or cancel the San Diego Padres’ Friday night home game against their biggest rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The threat of bad weather led singer Alicia Keys to postpone her sold-out Friday night concert at San Diego State University.

Orange County is expected to receive about a half inch of rain and San Diego County is expected to receive about three quarters of an inch. Mountains in San Diego and Riverside counties are expected to receive the most precipitation, with up to 7 inches expected in Riverside County. Riverside County Emergency Management Department spokesman Shane Reichardt said the storm heightened the potential for a power outage to public safety. It also repositioned fire threats only to include flash flooding.

“When you look at everything we have, with the heat we’ve had, the power issues we’ve had, the storm, the potential for public safety shutdowns, it creates a lot of anxiety, it’s a lot for the community to continue to absorb,” Reichardt said.

Low-lying desert areas, including the Coachella Valley, are also vulnerable. A flash flood watch is in effect for all mountains, valleys and deserts in Southern California, meteorologists said. Parts of the desert, including Mount Laguna, Ocotillo and areas near the Imperial Valley, are under a flash flood warning.

Coastal San Diego County, Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains were not under flash flood watch Friday morning, Miller said.

Winds from Tropical Storm Kay are intensifying, with gusts of 90 to 100 mph expected Friday afternoon and evening. A severe wind warning is in effect until midnight throughout the Inland Empire region, the mountains of Riverside and San Diego counties, and the San Diego coast and valleys. Orange County and the San Bernardino Mountains and Deserts are under a wind advisory. Even coastal areas and valleys could see winds of up to 60 mph.

“It will be noticeable,” said Elizabeth Schenk, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego. A gale warning was also in effect for coastal waters, with seas reaching 12ft. Orange County surf conditions could reach 6 foot waves. Strong currents are expected at least until Sunday.

In National City, Courtney Jones followed Kay on her phone and tapped into her experience growing up with storms on the East Coast. “I kind of expected to wake up and look outside and see the trees bend over, and leaves everywhere, loose debris, but when I looked outside, all I saw was… It was puddles and people driving a little slower,” Jones, 28, said. She hoped the rain would ease the heat, but conditions were still unbearable on Friday, what she and her family call “dog-breath weather”: hot, muggy and sticky.

Daye Salani left his home in downtown San Diego without his umbrella or jacket when he left for work Friday morning. If it was another day of the year or the middle of winter, Salani would have made sure to bring both items. But not today. “If I leave work and it’s pouring rain, I don’t mind getting soaked,” Salani said, adding that it’s “been a minute” since it spilled on him. This is a rare opportunity. “I invite him.”

The strong gusts could worsen the already critical fire situation. Near Hemet, the Fairview Fire had exploded over 27,000 acres on Friday – becoming the largest wildfire this year – with just 5% containment.

Heather Leer was traveling for work this week and layover at the Denver airport, hoping for no weather-related disruptions so she could return home to Hemet, located inside the evacuation grid . Her husband, who stayed at their home, had reported no rain Friday morning. But Leer worried about winds making the fire worse and difficult containment efforts. Rain could cause flash floods and mudslides.

“It’s a huge concern,” Leer, 41, said. “We have never seen so many things happen to each other that could potentially change our lives forever.”

On Friday, Los Angeles International Airport announced on Twitter that due to wind conditions it would shift its operations to have planes depart from the east and arrive from the west. There were few delays, with “99% of our schedule on time so far today,” LAX said in the tweet.

The storm is not expected to bring significant rain to Los Angeles County and surrounding areas, which are expected to remain dry for most of Friday, although squalls and thunderstorms may develop into the evening. Meteorologists have issued a flash flood watch for LA and Ventura counties, as well as Antelope Valley. Forecasters are particularly concerned about Catalina Island, which is under a coastal flood advisory.

Southern California last felt the effects of a tropical storm in 1997, when Tropical Storm Nora caused flooding, power outages and traffic accidents, as well as the destruction of several homes in Orange County.

Despite the rain coming, excessive heat remained an issue on Friday. The temperature in downtown Los Angeles was already 80 degrees at 9 a.m., said Dave Bruno of the weather service’s Oxnard office. Most valleys and foothills did not drop below 90 overnight.

Storm clouds could prevent record heat, but temperatures could still hit 100 degrees even near the coast, forecasters said.

The Inland Empire region and Orange County could reach highs in the upper 90s into the triple digits, while San Diego County will likely remain in the 90s.

But a cooldown is coming. “Today will be the last of the extreme days,” Bruno said.

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