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Back-to-back storms and high surf to hit saturated San Diego County this weekend

An unusual cloud formation hung over Southern California on Thursday.
An unusual cloud formation hung over Southern California on Thursday.
(NOAA/NWS)

The two systems could collectively drop 1.5 inches of rain at the coast where previous storms have made bluffs susceptible to rock slides and mudslides.

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Rain-weary San Diego County will get hit by back-to-back storms and powerful surf during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in a surge that could cause mudslides and widespread beach erosion.

The first system will move ashore late Saturday and is expected to deliver about a half-inch of rain at the coast and 1 inch across some inland areas by early Sunday, when it will clear off to the east, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters said the storm has added energy to a swell that will produce waves in the 5-foot to 10-foot range, with periodic breakers to 12 feet, on Friday and Saturday, primarily at south-facing beaches.

Surfline.com said the waves could reach 15 feet at Sunset Cliffs and at Horseshoe reef, a spot immediately north of the Children’s Pool area of La Jolla. An even larger swell earlier this month damaged the Ocean Beach pier, leading to a closure that is still in effect.

That swell coincided with extremely high tides that enabled many large waves to flow across the Mission Beach boardwalk and onto nearby streets. This week’s high tides will be much smaller.

The second storm is expected to arrive on Monday and could produce as much as 1 inch of rain at the coast, 1.5 inches across inland valleys and foothills, and perhaps a bit more in the mountains.

Coastal bluffs and canyons are heavily saturated, making them susceptible to mudslides and rock slides.

“People should remain very cognizant of the problem as they walk in these areas,” said Jose Ysea, a spokesperson for the city of San Diego.

The threat won’t be over when the two storms leave the area.

“Slides can occur 10 days or more after the rain stops,” said Adam Young, a researcher at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


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