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Thunderstorms hit Imperial Valley

July 14, 2012|By CHELCEY ADAMI | Staff Writer
  • Imperial County firefighters Mark Jackson and Diego Galindo make their way to an Imperial Irrigation District employee who was stranded on Dunaway Road north of Interstate 8 on Friday.

Parts of Imperial County were soaked Friday as several severe thunderstorms moved through the area.

The rains and flash flooding caused various highways and roads throughout the county to close, and an Imperial Irrigation District employee was stranded atop an IID truck after trying to cross a flooded Dunaway Road north of Interstate 8.

Imperial County firefighters came to his rescue about 6:30 p.m. as water crept up to the bottom of the IID truck’s headlights.

Flooding also caused 19 train cars to derail in the Glamis area around 6 p.m. Friday, Union Pacific Corporate Relations and Media Director Aaron Hunt said.

The derailment resulted in no spills or injuries although there was some track damage. Hunt wasn’t sure how quickly the cars would be operational.

Imperial County Fire Chief Tony Rouhotas said multiple calls were made related to flooding and some people called saying they saw lightning strikes.

There were several reports of vehicle accidents, including a motorcycle versus vehicle near the East Port of Entry and another accident east of Heber. There were also reports of scattered power issues, although no details were available Friday night..

Communities such as Ocotillo and Calipatria appeared to see some of the most extreme weather while areas like El Centro and Calexico received lighter rain. There were reports of flooding in Winterhaven later Friday evening.

 Winterhaven Fire Chief Steve Taylor said many roads were flooded Friday night, including some that reached houses on the 2100 block of F Street. Some areas were without power, and an operation center had been set up at the Quechan casino.

There were no initial reports of major damage or injury, though fire crews were out Friday night setting up sandbags in different areas, he said.

The National Weather Service issued several advisories for thunderstorms, flash floods and flooding throughout the evening, and meteorologist Marvin Percha said residents can likely expect some more of this type of weather throughout the weekend.

The thunderstorms began in the northwestern part of the Valley and gradually moved south and then east into the Yuma area.

Radar estimates showed wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour and some areas had about two inches of rain, Percha said.

A deep monsoon flow coming in with deep moisture from the southeast caused the severe weather, he explained.

Residents should stay indoors and avoid driving during this type of weather, according to the National Weather Service.

Most flood-related deaths occur in automobiles, and drivers are advised to not attempt to cross water covered bridges or low water crossings.

Road closures as of Friday night included Dunaway Road and Highway 98 in west Imperial County and Ogilby Road between Interstate 8 and Highway 78 near Winterhaven. Ogilby is expected to be closed through this morning.

Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin contributed to this story.

Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or

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