Last updated 3/14/2023 at 11:43am
A very powerful storm hit parts of San Diego County, leaving many drenched in snow, rain or even debris causing severe damage to homes and businesses.
In Borrego Springs, the heavy rain and strong winds that pushed through the area on Feb. 21 left the town scavenging through the consequences, with thousands left without power for nearly two days.
With winds notching in at over 100 mph and about 40 power lines down between Borrego and Salton City, caused a power outage for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) customers. The power was eventually restored in some areas of Borrego the next day at around 5 p.m., while for many as late as Feb. 23. Restoration times differed for each impacted circuit. The times of restoration continued to change overnight and throughout the day, leaving many on the edge of restoration.
Crews made significant progress in restoring thousands of customers and were working to restore remaining customers as quickly and safely as possible at 3 a.m. while the winds continued to blow.
Damage in Borrego Springs:
- Christmas Circle: A huge tree pulled from roots and knocked down, the "Welcome to Borrego Springs" sign destroyed
- Borrego Sun sign torn
- Trees have fallen over homes and in areas of the park
- The roofs of homes torn up
- Carports landing on cars or ending up on the other side of the street
- Street signs fallen
- Santiago Estates and De Anza homes destroyed
The Village Liquor was open, but only taking cash, as was the Desert Pantry for some time, helping residents.
In Salton City and eastern Imperial County, over 2,500 customers were out of power, as the strong winds brought by the storm knocked down 76 power poles on a major transmission line.
According to an IID press release, 35 power poles went down north of Salton City and 41 others, south of the city.
"IID is working with the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and Imperial County to set up temporary assistance until electric service can be restored. Some customers may be without power for more than 24 hours," the release reads.
As of print, some residents still do not have any power. It was reported on the Borrego Springs 92004 Facebook that the Chevron and Red Earth, as well as Jack in the Box have power with the help of a generator.
The intense storm also prompted the San Diego County Office of Education to cancel classes for the day at Julian Union Elementary School, Julian Union High School, Spencer Valley Elementary School and campuses in the Mountain Empire Unified School District.
The rain and mountain snow became heavier and more widespread over the weekend, according to the weather service, which has issued a winter storm warning for the East County highlands. Traveling in those areas over the period "could be very difficult to impossible," the federal agency warned.
SDG&E said working remotely allows crews to respond to outages faster to repair and investigate. The remote operations centers also allow for crews to work in preventing outages. When crews are called out, their technician determines the cause and whether to put customers on a different circuit to restore their power quicker.
The agency said they have remote operations centers staged at locations around the county, including in wind-prone Julian and Borrego Springs.
Much of the county is under a watch, warning or advisory by the National Weather Service, with nearly all of the region impacted by wind.
At the coast, a high wind warning was in effect as impacted areas faced gusts up to 60 mph. For valleys, a wind advisory was issued due to the potential for up to 45 mph gusts. Desert communities were under a high wind warning as they braced for winds of 35 to 55 mph, with isolated gusts up to 85 mph but still notched up to 100 mph. And the mountains, which were under a winter storm watch, were met with some of the strongest winds with gusts as high as 90 mph.
According to SDG&E, "The safety of our customers, employees and the communities we serve is of the utmost importance to SDG&E, which is why the company has taken proactive steps to prepare for another storm expected to impact the region this weekend. SDG&E's meteorologists continue to closely monitor weather conditions as a more widespread and significant winter storm is approaching and expected to arrive in San Diego, according to forecasts.
In anticipation of any possible storms, SDG&E has increased the number of field crews and equipment available to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. The company's meteorology team is also monitoring weather conditions minute-by-minute to help provide situational awareness to crews working hard to maintain the infrastructure that serves our communities. However, preparedness is a community effort, and the company encourages all of its customers to have a plan in place in case of unplanned outages.
To help customers prepare for the upcoming storm, the company is sharing the following safety tips to help keep you and the region safe:
•If you see a downed power line or damaged electrical equipment:
o Always assume it is energized and stay away. Never touch a downed power line or damaged electrical equipment.
o Call 9-1-1 and SDG&E at (800) 411-SDGE (7343) to report it.
o If a person has come into contact with a power line, do not touch them. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
• Secure any loose outdoor items like umbrellas, patio furniture and garbage bins to prevent them from flying away and damaging power lines.
• Drive safely. During storm conditions, the number of cars hitting transformers or power poles increases, so be sure to slow down and allow more time for braking.
• Have a plan and kit with essential supplies. Keep a battery-operated radio and flashlights handy in case the power goes out. Check the batteries now to make sure the equipment works, and do not rely on candles for lighting during a power outage.
• In the event you do experience a power outage, customers are encouraged to visit sdge.com/outages for status updates and to view SDG&E's outage map.
• If you rely on electrically operated medical equipment for your health and safety, make sure you have made backup power arrangements in case of an unplanned outage.
It has been a crazy winter indeed, and the hope is that was the last of it. So, what are the chances of a late bloom now?