Southern California gets heat and storms

Southern California gets heat and storms

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wild weather hit Southern California on Tuesday, baking many areas with triple-digit heat but pummeling others with winds, lightning, rain and hail.

Moist, unstable air flowing up from the remnants of Hurricane Odile in Mexico's Baja California combined with a continuing heat wave to produce cells of fierce thunderstorms in San Diego County, and in mountains and deserts.

Afternoon storms caused minor road flooding and ripped the roof off of a school building in Wildomar, east of Los Angeles, while lightning, heavy rain and hail struck the mountains.

In San Diego County, dozens of trees were knocked down by wind gusts of up to 50 mph, U-T San Diego reported (

Trees smashed several cars and trucks and hit the front of a school bus in Spring Valley but nobody was hurt, authorities said. At Montgomery Field, winds tore loose a piece of hangar that knocked over two small airplanes.

State fire Capt. Kendall Bortisser said he was at a fire station in Rancho San Diego during a 20-minute downpour.

"Wind, rain, hail, lightning, thunder — it was crazy," he told the newspaper. "I've never seen anything like it. The skies just opened up."

In San Bernardino County, lightning sparked a house fire in the mountain community of Crestline and a small wildfire in foothills near Highland but both were quickly controlled.

At the same time, a heat wave that began building last weekend continued to produce record temperatures for the date.

The high of 103 in downtown Los Angeles matched records set in 1909 and 1889, the National Weather Service reported.

In Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power reported an all-time record energy demand of 6,396 megawatts as residents turned to their air conditioners for relief.

The DWP scrambled crews to deal with about two dozen power outages that affected about 3,300 customers at any given time, spokeswoman Michelle Vargas said.

"There is a strain on the grid," Vargas said.

"We're using nearly double what we normally consume," she added.

El Cajon's 104 topped the previous high of 102 from 2000, while Chula Vista recorded a 98 — 10 degrees hotter than the previous record set in 1979.

The National Weather Service issued warnings of extreme fire danger for many areas.

The weather was expected to cool slightly on Wednesday — although increasing humidity would mean continued stifling temperatures and a continuing chance of thunderstorms.

But a big cool-down was predicted for Friday, with temperatures 15 to 30 degrees lower than Tuesday and below normal for the first time in almost two weeks, the weather service said.

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