In a mix of bad and good, firefighters feared powerful winds could expand the massive Fairview Fire 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of San Diego, while forecasters said the change in weather would finally end the state’s heat wave.

A tropical storm nearing Southern California on Friday brought fierce mountain winds, high humidity, rain and the threat of flooding to a region already dealing with wildfires and an extraordinary heat wave that has stressed the electrical grid.

In a mix of bad and good, firefighters feared powerful winds could expand the massive Fairview Fire 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of San Diego, while forecasters said the change in weather would finally end the state’s heat wave.

Tropical Storm Kay, downgraded from hurricane status, was expected to continue northward off Mexico’s Baja California peninsula and then veer west without making landfall in Southern California but still have a strong impact there. The National Weather Service warned of a threat of flash floods for much of Southern California, Arizona and southern Nevada.

The moisture was forecast to then surge farther north into the Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada, where the dangerous Mosquito Fire is burning, bringing both significant cooling and the possibility of thunderstorms during the weekend.

The tropical conditions added a swelter to the heat wave, which offered little overnight relief. The San Diego airport was 89 degrees (31.6 degrees Celsius) with rain at 5 a.m. Friday.

“Living in San Diego, it’s odd to see skies overcast and rain and go outside into a wall of humidity as if it were South Carolina,” said city spokesperson Anthony Santacroce.

Officials from San Diego to Long Beach were posting warning signs in low-lying coastal areas and making sandbags available to the public. Crews were on standby to deal with any flooding, while the forecast of rough seas prompted the cancellation of afternoon and evening ferry services Friday to Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles.

By late morning a steady rain pelted downtown San Diego as Charles Jenkins swept the accumulating puddles away from the tarps of his makeshift home.

“The heat was killer so for now this feels good,” Jenkins said. “I just hope the water doesn’t get too high. But I will rough it. I’ve got pallets I can put underneath to keep out the rain.”

To the east in the agricultural region of California’s Imperial Valley near the Mexican border, there was some scattered flooding of roads and fields and power outages, officials said.

Windspeeds reached 109 mph (175 kph) on San Diego County’s Cuyamaca Peak, the National Weather Service said. Several small school districts in the mountainous region called off classes to keep people from having to travel in the blustery weather.

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