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More Rain on Tap For Riverside County; storm knocks out power to 10,000 customers
Friday, August 30th, 2013
Issue 35, Volume 17.
Downpours started around 2:50 p.m. Thursday and lasted roughly an hour, with driving rain accompanied by high winds. Trees toppled down onto some flooded roads.
"We had the equivalent of a 200-year flood in one hour," Riverside Public Utilities Deputy Director Steve Badgett said. "It rained hard for a solid hour. We recorded nearly 1.5 inches of rain in the heart of the city."
Trees that had collapsed onto power lines, along with blown transformers, knocked out electricity to more than 10,000 homes and businesses, Badgett. said.
National Weather Service forecasters said the storm cells that hit the area brought winds in excess of 60 mph and hail.
"We're going to have a flash flood watch out for the mountains and deserts today," including the Coachella Valley, said NWS Meteorologist Mark Moede. "That will go from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m."
The region has been engulfed in a tropical air mass for the last few days as a monsoon pattern has pulled moisture from the south and east into the southwestern United States, he said, adding that the chance of showers and thunderstorms will increase through the morning hours today, he said.
"There will certainly be areas of heavy rain this afternoon and evening, especially over the mountains," Moede said.
The subtropical moisture will begin decreasing on Saturday, he said.
Around 1,000 customers in Riverside remained without electricity asof Thursday night, Badgett said. The outages were in isolated pockets of the city, including in Riverside's historic "Woods" streets near downtown, as well as southeast of the University Avenue corridor.
Badgett expected power would be fully restored by this morning, with crews working around the clock.
"The sheer amount of water that came down in such a short span of time has caused a lot of problems," said Riverside Public Information Officer Phil Pitchford.
Canals throughout the downtown area were unable to handle the high volume of rainwater, which spilled onto roadways, turning low places into virtual ponds.
"The overflow was too much," Badgett said. "We certainly learned a lesson today."
Access to the Riverside (91) Freeway and downtown area was blocked Thursday at major junctures from the east side of the city, with firefighters, traffic enforcement personnel and police officers blocking roadways where water and mud had massed.
Two of the worst-hit areas were 14th Street and University Avenue, where standing water prevented safe crossing. By 8 p.m., crews had removed water on University, just below the Riverside Freeway, but 14th was still closed.
Water and mud damage occurred in two homes on Sunnyside Drive, just off the Riverside Freeway at Arlington Avenue, according to Riverside Fire Department Capt. Tim Beeler. He said one home had very light damage, but the adjacent one took the brunt of a "spillover" of mud and debris from the Gage Canal.
Pitchford said City Hall offices at Main and Ninth streets sustained minor rain damage. The city's Emergency Operations Center on Lincoln Street was activated, and agency heads coordinated efforts to tackle the mess.
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