San Diego, known for its sun-kissed beaches and laid-back vibes, is grappling with a starkly different reality. Unprecedented rainfall on Monday, January 23rd, 2024, shattered records, becoming the wettest January day the city has ever seen. Severe flooding resulted after torrential rains, engulfing homes, converting streets into rivers, and requiring the city to issue an emergency declaration.
The deluge, exceeding 2.67 inches of rain at San Diego International Airport, eclipsed the previous record of 2.27 inches set in 1850. While the rain brought relief from the recent drought, it came at a heavy price. Flash floods ravaged coastal communities, with National City bearing the brunt, receiving nearly 3 inches of rain in just 3 hours. Low-lying areas were flooded by overflowing rivers and storm drains, converting roadways into impassable streams.
The storm resulted from a Pacific front combined with unstable air composed of a warmer atmosphere colliding, creating a strong atmospheric river. The only thing missing from the storm was a strong wind. The rain amounts in San Diego have been well below normal so far this season, which started on October 1, 2023. But this one storm raised the city’s annual average temperature only a little bit above normal.
The wettest January day on record in San Diego significantly impacted the city. The storm hit Tijuana and other parts of northern Baja California hard, with at least eight migrants being rescued by U.S. Agents from Customs and Border Protection and firefighters from the San Diego Fire Department. Just southeast of downtown is the Southcrest neighborhood, where people had to be rescued by the authorities.
The emergency declaration activated a coordinated response from city officials, law enforcement, and emergency responders. Residents in locations vulnerable to flooding were given evacuation orders, and emergency personnel faced dangerous circumstances to save the lives of those stranded. To offer temporary safety to individuals affected by the flooding, shelters were opened. To offer individuals affected by the floods a temporary place to stay, shelters were opened.
The city’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated, according to Mayor Todd Gloria, and emergency personnel will continue to deal with the storm’s effects. San Diego’s proclamation of a state of emergency emphasizes how serious the situation is and how quickly action is required to lessen the storm’s effects.
The storm also affected the Navy Base San Diego, south of downtown. The rainfall was so intense that it put San Diego’s season-to-date precipitation at just a hair under 5 inches. The Southern California coast will have to have more days like this to continue on a normal track or even produce an above-normal year of precipitation. After the end of March, it’s uncommon to have significant precipitation that moves needles. It’s likely the last storm of this kind for January.
The aftermath of the deluge is a scene of devastation. Homes and businesses are left with waterlogged interiors and damaged belongings. Roads require extensive repairs, and infrastructure repairs are expected to cost millions. The entire amount of the damage is being assessed by the city, but weeks will pass before the financial and psychological costs are fully realized.
The city’s schools in Spring Valley and neighboring La Mesa announced a Tuesday closure of classes. A dense cloud of precipitation moved across the city in the late morning, submerging several streets and Interstate 15, which goes to Las Vegas, to the point where they had to be closed. Navy Base San Diego, which is located south of downtown, reported flooding. As they attempted to redirect incoming and leaving traffic to parts of the installation that weren’t temporarily joined with nearby San Diego Bay, Navy officials advised base personnel to remain where they were.
The flooding caused significant damage to the city’s infrastructure, with many roads and highways closed due to the high water levels 1. Firefighters and police officers were working nonstop to save people from flooded cars and homes, taxing the limits of the city’s emergency services. Homes and businesses suffered severe damage as a result of the water, and many people lost all they owned.
During the crisis, however, stories of resilience are emerging. Neighbors helped evacuate each other, volunteers joined cleanup efforts, and emergency responders worked tirelessly to ensure everyone’s safety. San Diego’s sense of community is evident despite the city’s recent recovery from the storm’s fury.
While the weather forecast offers some hope with sunshine shortly, the scars of this record-breaking storm will remain for some time. San Diego is resolute in rebuilding stronger and more resilient in the face of misfortune, but its spirit remains unshakable.
In conclusion, the wettest January day on record in San Diego caused widespread flooding and significant damage to the city’s infrastructure and property. The city’s emergency services worked tirelessly to rescue people from flooded homes and vehicles, and the mayor declared a state of emergency due to the extreme rainfall and flash flooding. Since Friday, there have been three Pacific storms that have hit the West Coast; the first two have passed over the area and the second has just dumped about 1/3 inch of rain, which is still rather warm. The city’s schools in Spring Valley and neighboring La Mesa announced a Tuesday closure of classes. The flooding also caused significant damage to homes and businesses, with many people losing everything they had.