Forecast rainfall totals
Rainfall totals forecast for the atmospheric river beginning Tuesday. Courtesy National Weather Service

It rained on and off in San Diego from Sunday afternoon through Monday, but that was just a preview of the atmospheric river expected to hit the region on Tuesday.

“A rapidly intensifying low pressure system off the California coast will move inland and bring much cooler weather with widespread moderate to locally heavy precipitation this morning,
widespread showers this evening, with occasional showers continuing through Wednesday,” the National Weather Service said in its forecast update just before 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

“Strong and potentially damaging winds will develop with a passing cold front through midday with stronger and gusty southwest to west winds continuing at times into Wednesday.”

Rainfall over Tuesday and Wednesday is expected to total 1.5 to 2.5 inches along the coast, 2 to 3 inches in the valleys, 3 to 6 inches in the mountains and .5 to 1 inch in the deserts.

The snow level will fall 5,000 feet, with 6 to 12 inches of snow possible in the San Diego County mountains.

Highs on Tuesday will be around 62 along the coast, 60 in the western valleys, 51 to 56 near the foothills, 45 to 53 in the mountains and 66 to 71 in the deserts.

Wind gusts are expected to reach as high as 55 mph along the coast, and up to 85 mph in the mountains as the atmospheric river moves through the region.

San Diego Gas & Electric said it is increasing the number of field crews and equipment available to restore power quickly in case of downed power lines on Tuesday.

Mostly dry weather is expected for Thursday and into the weekend, the weather service said, with another storm possible early next week.

Updated at 7:40 a.m., Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.