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Thunderstorm hammers Valley

August 08, 2001

The Imperial Irrigation District reported power outages in the El Centro and Holtville areas due to strong winds and rain and broken power poles.

By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

Cliché though it may be, it was a dark and stormy night indeed for the central Imperial Valley as strong winds and rain besieged the region Tuesday evening, resulting in property damage, power outages and fallen power lines and trees.

The area west of El Centro was hardest hit by the storm, receiving almost half an inch of water.

Imperial County Meteorologist Jim Christopherson reported on the county weather forecast telephone line the thunderstorm was isolated but powerful, with strong but brief gusty winds.

Mark Castillo, an employee at BJ Auto Electric at 691 Evan Hewes Highway, said the site "looked like a war zone" as a result of the winds.

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Branches from surrounding trees had been knocked off along with the building's awnings, Castillo said.

This morning, Castillo said, employees were doing some cleaning up but he doubted they'd be able to repair all the damage themselves.

The Imperial Irrigation District reported power outages in the El Centro and Holtville areas due to strong winds and rain and broken power poles. Most of the outages were isolated to the distribution network, according to IID.

The Imperial County Fire Department reported storm-related damage centered on Forrester Road and Evan Hewes Highway and the area near Austin Road and Main Street. Fences, trees and basketball goals were among the things knocked down by the storm in the Sandalwood Glen and Wildflower areas of southwest Imperial.

No injuries were reported to the county Fire Department.

According to the California Highway Patrol, downed power lines and trees caused road closures on sections of Ross Road and Evan Hewes Highway between Forrester and Austin roads. Parts of Forrester Road south of Hackleman Road also were closed.

The closures began shortly after 7:30 p.m. and ended after 11:15 p.m.

The El Centro Fire Department received several calls about utility wires down. Along with falling power wires were falling trees. The department had reports of two fallen trees on two cars in the 900 block of Waterman Avenue.

Despite the wet weather, Tuesday's temperatures reached 115 degrees in El Centro, according to Christopherson. That ties with July 1 and 2 as the hottest day of the year.

Today's temperature will be slightly cooler, reaching 111 degrees, Christopherson said. Skies will be sunny to partly cloudy with a chance of isolated evening thunderstorms tonight.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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