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Sudden storm rips through San Diego

Parts of San Diego were hit by a surprise storm Tuesday that pounded local communities and toppled several trees.

SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS 8) - A stubborn monsoonal heat wave kept the San Diego area roasting again Tuesday and added to the misery by generating lightning, heavy rain, hail and stiff winds that sent trees and power lines crashing down onto roads and buildings.

The late-summer onslaught of oppressively sultry conditions once more hiked temperatures up into the triple digits inland and spread wilting humidity throughout the county.

In the early afternoon, thunderheads created by the sticky swelter erupted in a storm that sent down heavy precipitation -- some of it in the form of frozen pellets -- and kicked up powerful winds in Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego and Casa de Oro, authorities said.

The squalls continued, off and on, into the evening.

At Montgomery Field Airport Gibbs Flying Services report San Diego Fire Department reports at least 8 planes were severely damaged and more than a dozen had minor damage.

“Even though all the airplanes were tied down with chains they are designed to hold it up to 70 mile an hour winds,” said Gibbs Flying Services General Manager, Henry Sickels.

The National Weather Service reports straight line winds with 54 miler per hour wind gusts at Montgomery Field Airport.

San Diego Fire & Rescue says they had to capture 30-gallons of fuel leaking from planes.

“We had to stop the fuel leak so we had to make sure it did not get in the storm drains get washed down in the bay or ocean,” said SDFR Battalion Chief, Rick Ballard.

One single-engine plane blew over a fence and crashed into two parked cars.

“I'm really happy I wasn't in it. I'm glad I am alive,” said Michael Evans.

Four other planes were damaged from hangar torn off its moorings.

The owner of the Cessna that flipped over says planes are machines and lives are not.

“The bottom line is metal is replaceable, airplanes are replaceable. People are not,” said Phil Thalheimer.

The total amount of damages at Montgomery Field Airport are unknown.

The winds also damaged electrical-transmission equipment, leaving about 17,000 homes and businesses from El Cajon to La Jolla without power, according to San Diego Gas & Electric as of early evening. The blackouts were expected to variously last into the night and early Wednesday morning, the utility reported.

In the East County, the storm knocked over dozens of trees along with power poles, damaging homes, vehicles and commercial structures and blocking roads, Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said.

The extent of the damage was not immediately clear. No injuries were reported, Bortisser said.

Meanwhile, students at schools without air conditioning in San Diego, Chula Vista, Coronado and National City were sent home early for the second consecutive day.

While the Coronado, National and Sweetwater districts planned to maintain a minimum-day schedule again Wednesday, the San Diego Unified School District has opted to return to a normal schedule for all schools, whether or not they have air conditioning.

"Our criteria for determining the move to minimum day was based on a combination of forecast temperatures of 95 or higher and a heat index of 103 or higher for those schools in the district which did not have 100 percent air conditioned classrooms," according to a district statement. "None of our schools are forecast to have the combination of 95+ temps/103+ heat index on Wednesday."

About two-thirds of SDUSD schools were put on minimum-day schedules. They included Clairemont, Crawford, Garfield, La Jolla, Madison, Mira Mesa, Mission Bay, Morse and University City high schools.

Repairs were underway on air conditioning systems, and portable cooling units were installed in some bungalows, according to the district.

The affected Sweetwater Union High School District include Mar Vista Academy, Castle Park and Hilltop middle schools, and Chula Vista, Mar Vista and Sweetwater high schools.

Those trying to beat the heat can head to more than 100 air-conditioned buildings, such as libraries and recreation centers -- dubbed "Cool Zones." A list of county Cool Zones is available at CoolZones.org. or by calling 211.

Forecasters urged people to schedule outdoor activities for the cool of the morning or in evening, to take frequent breaks in shady or air-conditioned areas and to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Those planning to be outside were advised to wear light, loose clothing and to drink plenty of water.

San Diego Gas & Electric said it would implement its "Reduce Your Use" rewards program again Wednesday. Under the program, customers can receive a bill credit for not using as much electricity from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information on how to sign up can be obtained online at sdge.com/reduceuse.

The utility encourages San Diegans to close blinds and curtains during the warmest hours of the day, raise the central air conditioning system's thermostat setting four to six degrees, health permitting, run major appliances and pool pumps before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m., and unplug chargers and power strips.

The heat and mugginess were expected to continue Wednesday as remnants of Hurricane Odile keep swamping the region, according to the National Weather Service. A cooling trend should begin Thursday and bring temperatures back down to near-normal readings by the weekend, the NWS advised.





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