Strong storm due to hit Monday

A strengthening winter storm is bearing down on Southern California and is expected to bring drenching rains, powerful winds and mountain snow, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

“This is going to be different from the weak systems we’ve been having,” said Noel Isla of the NWS. “This is a good one.”

Storms are usually weakening by the time they get here, but this one is intensifying, Isla said. He also said that it’s going to make a “direct hit on San Diego and Southern California,” where usually the region only gets the tail end of storm systems.

Isla said one to two inches of rain could fall in San Diego County

coastal areas, and winds could gust up to 60 mph, even in the metropolitan area.

Drizzle could begin falling Monday morning, but the strongest of the

rain and wind isn’t expected until Monday night, he said.

In the mountains, two to four inches of rain could fall with snow at the higher elevations, according to Isla. The snow level will range between 4,500 and 6,000 feet depending on local temperatures.

A gale watch was issued by the NWS for strong winds over coastal waters effective from mid-morning Monday to late-Monday night.

The NWS forecasts that the storm will move out of the area Tuesday, but more rainfall could arrive Thursday or Friday.