Tropical Storm Kay breaks records for heat and rain in Southern California

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Records for rain and heat in parts of Southern California were broken on Friday as Tropical Storm Kay helped firefighters battle a huge blaze near Hemet.

According to the National Weather Service, 5 inches of rain fell at Mt. Laguna in San Diego County. Other mountainous areas of San Diego, including Julian, received 4 inches of rain, with less than an inch falling along the coast.

Several locations in Los Angeles County, including Los Angeles International Airport, Long Beach Airport and downtown Los Angeles, recorded new daily rainfall records, but the amounts were quite low. Long Beach, for example, recorded 0.20 inches, beating the old daily record of 0.02. LAX also set a new daily heat record (102 degrees) along with several other locations such as Oxnard and Santa Barbara Airport.

The storm system is expected to continue to affect Southern California through the weekend, but with less rain and somewhat cooler temperatures compared to Friday. This caused power outages scattered throughout the region.

Kay was about 130 miles off San Diego Friday night, and meteorologists were surprised the storm retained such strength as it moved through cold waters near California.

Usually when tropical storms head north, they lose a lot of their power, said Ivory Small, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

“This one keeps hitting,” Small said.

Although Kay as a whole steadily weakened, the storm produced strong gusts in Southern California.

Its maximum sustained wind speeds had fallen to 40 mph, according to a 5 p.m. update by the National Hurricane Center. It will degrade into a post-tropical cyclone once its wind speeds drop below 39 mph.

“Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles mostly east of the center,” according to the Hurricane Center. “There are ongoing reports of wind gusts of 50 to 70 mph in the mountains east and northeast of San Diego, with occasional hurricane-force gusts.”

Hurricane-force winds start at 74 mph.

“Strong winds not directly associated with the central Kay wind field are occurring in parts of southern California and extreme southwestern Arizona,” the Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters also said Kay was producing 2 to 4 inches of rain in the southernmost parts of California, with a few isolated pockets of 6 to 8 inches of precipitation.

The rain was dispersed in San Diego County in the morning and crept into Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties in the afternoon, the weather service said. Heavy rain with possible thunderstorms could still be ahead, officials warned.

San Diego County was beset by heavy rain and wind gusts over 100 mph in mountain areas. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the northeast part of the county as well as Riverside County.

As of Friday night, some of the mountains in the San Diego area had received nearly 5 inches of rain, with San Diego International Airport receiving 0.60 inches as of 7 p.m.

The threat of bad weather led singer Alicia Keys to postpone her sold-out Friday night concert at San Diego State University, but the Dodgers and Padres faced off as scheduled at Petco Park.

Orange County beaches had received about a quarter inch of rain Friday night, and a predicted multi-inch downpour in the mountains of Riverside County failed to materialize.

Riverside County Emergency Management Department spokesman Shane Reichardt said the storm heightened the potential for a power outage to public safety. It also repositioned fire threats to include flash flooding.

“When you look at everything we have, with the heat we’ve had, the power issues we’ve had, the storm, the potential for public safety shutdowns, it creates a lot of anxiety. It’s a lot for the community to continue to absorb,” Reichardt said.

Low-lying desert areas, including the Coachella Valley, were also vulnerable. A flash flood watch is in effect for all mountains, valleys and deserts in Southern California, meteorologists said. Parts of the desert, including Mount Laguna, Ocotillo and areas near the Imperial Valley, received a flash flood warning.

Intense winds stressed power lines and toppled trees in San Diego County, where the maximum wind speed was recorded at 109 mph at Cuyamaca Peak, about nine miles south of Julian.

A severe wind warning is in effect until midnight throughout the Inland Empire, the mountains of Riverside and San Diego counties and the San Diego coast and valleys. Orange County and the San Bernardino Mountains and Deserts were under a wind advisory. Even coastal areas and valleys had the possibility of winds of up to 60 mph.

A gale warning was in effect for coastal waters, with seas as high as 12ft. Orange County surf conditions could reach six feet. Strong currents are expected at least until Sunday.

In anticipation of the swell and high tides, Long Beach began provide sandbags to residents in the lower areas of the fire stations and the aid station at 72nd Square and Ocean Boulevard.

Protective berms have been constructed along the beachfront peninsula near Alamitos Beach to protect nearby homes.

“Residents are advised to stay away from the coast from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., beginning tonight,” Long Beach officials said in a statement.

In National City, Courtney Jones followed Kay on her phone. She grew up with the storms on the East Coast.

“I kind of expected to wake up and look outside and see trees bending and leaves everywhere, loose debris, but when I looked outside all I saw was puddles and people driving a little slower,” Jones, 28, said. She hoped the rain would ease the heat, but conditions were still unbearable early Friday, what she and her family call “dog-breath weather”: hot, muggy and sticky.

Daye Salani left his home in downtown San Diego without his umbrella or jacket when he left for work Friday morning.

“If I leave work and it’s raining, I don’t mind getting soaked,” Salani said, adding that it’s “been a minute” since the rain hit him. It was a rare occasion and “I invite her,” he said.

Heather Leer, who lives in Hemet, near the Fairview fire, was on a layover at the Denver airport hoping not to encounter any weather-related disruptions so she could get back to her home, which is inside of the fire evacuation area.

Leer’s husband, who stayed at their home, had reported no rain Friday morning, but she was worried about winds worsening the blaze and jeopardizing containment efforts. The fire, which started on Monday, had swept through nearly 30,000 acres. The rains could also lead to flash floods and mudslides in the burn scar.

“It’s a huge concern,” Leer, 41, said. “We have never seen so many things about each other that could potentially change our lives forever.”

Rains relieved firefighters battling the Hemet blaze, with the extra moisture saturating the area and easing some of the threat posed by high winds in dry conditions, said fire department spokesman Rob Roseen. of Cal Fire/Riverside County.

“We got some of those winds, but the rain came a lot earlier than expected,” Roseen said. “We still have fire rooted in some of these tree trunks and things of that nature, and there’s definitely still some fire work to do, but for the most part the fire has been reduced.”

Some residents evacuated from North Temecula began returning home Friday evening, he said.

“If that rain hadn’t come, there would have been threats to that community,” he said. “It was over 18,000 homes that would have been affected by this.”

Still, he added, the heavy rain presented some risk to firefights, “as far as possible from downed trees”.

At Imperial, Jorge Reyes said the rain started early Friday. It’s humid, he says, but nowhere is it as hot as the triple digits the city recorded on Labor Day weekend.

Flash flood warnings have been issued in recent monsoon seasons, but he said this was the first time he could recall one for September – or really no rain at all in that month. a calendar year.

“We don’t have rain all the time, and sometimes when it rains it bypasses us in the Yuma area or other towns,” said Reyes, 45.

The storm is not expected to bring significant rain to Los Angeles County and surrounding areas, which are expected to remain dry for most of Friday, although squalls of rain and thunderstorms may develop into the evening and last through the weekend. -end.

“Showers and isolated thunderstorms are expected this evening through Saturday with locally heavy rain possible,” the National Weather Service said.

However, Los Angeles International Airport announced on Twitter that due to Friday’s wind conditions, he would shift operations so that planes departed from the east and arrived from the west. There were few delays, with “99% of our schedule on time so far today,” LAX said.

Meteorologists have issued a flash flood watch for LA and Ventura counties, as well as Antelope Valley. Forecasters are particularly concerned about Catalina Island, which is under a coastal flood advisory.

Southern California last felt the effects of a tropical storm in 1997, when Tropical Storm Nora caused flooding, power outages and traffic accidents, as well as the destruction of several homes in Orange County.

Despite the rain coming, excessive heat remained an issue Friday amid a prolonged heat wave that baked Southern California for more than a week. The temperature in downtown Los Angeles was 80 degrees at 9 a.m., said Dave Bruno of the weather service’s Oxnard office. Most valleys and foothills did not drop below 90 overnight.

Temperatures began to drop around noon, but not before setting another daily record at LAX, which recorded a high of 101 degrees, beating the previous September 9 record of 96 degrees set in 1984.

Times writer Gregory Yee, along with Gary Robbins and Teri Figueroa of the San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.

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