Torrential rainfall plunged San Diego County into chaos on Monday, as officials declared a state of emergency amid flash flooding in San Diego that swallowed roadways, downed trees, and cut power to thousands.
The latest bout of extreme weather turned morning commutes into disasters and forced school closures across the region. Videos showed vehicles overtaken by raging floodwaters as residents braced for the worst storm in recent memory.
The flash floods represent the most severe effects of a powerful low-pressure system that has dumped heavy rain and snow across the West over the past week.
While San Diego bore the brunt of the damage, Los Angeles County and parts of the Southwest also faced flood risks and travel hazards from the unsettled weather pattern.
In San Diego, a flood watch will remain in effect until Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service, which warned of excessive rainfall with storm drains overwhelmed.
Bands of intense rain arrived early Monday, bursting river banks and transforming city streets into temporary waterways. Before noon, the county's website listed over 50 road closures, including portions of busy interstates.
As rainfall intensities increased, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria took the unprecedented step of declaring a city-wide state of emergency Monday afternoon.
Through an alert system, Gloria urged residents to avoid roads, prevent unnecessary water usage that could tax infrastructure, and prepare supplies for potential power outages.
Flash flood videos shared on social media showed massive waves swallowing parked cars as first responders mobilized water rescues across the metro area.