A summer storm packing heavy rain and pea-sized hail pummeled Idyllwild Tuesday afternoon, and in some areas hail was so heavy it looked like snow accumulation. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for Central Riverside County, including the mountain burn area and drainages below. The U.S. Forest Service station at Keenwild reported .78 inches of rainfall from 3:17 to 4:17 p.m. Mt. San Jacinto Peak received .60 inches from 2:53 to 3:53 p.m.
The storm wreaked havoc on local roads. Cal Trans was out in force clearing the debris and mud. Drivers traveling on Highway 74 in Mountain Center were caught in rushing water and heavy debris flow.
Dentist Heber Dunn was one of those travelers. “I was traveling up from the desert about 4:30ish and the car stopped ahead of me and then about three or four more cars stopped,” he said. “I looked ahead and it looked like the road was just bubbling with water coming across the top, just ferocious.
“Right at the McCall turn-off there is quite a deep gully that goes under the road and these big round pipes go under it. It just went right through that and came up over the top and was washing down the main road.
“We had a river coming right down the middle of the road. It was amazing. There were several places on the road after Mountain Center where you could see debris in the road where [the water] had crossed. It looked dangerous,” Dunn added.
The parking lot adjacent to Fairway Market became a river of water, hail and debris. Manager Linda Higgins said, “It started thundering, then it started hailing and it poured. [There was] lots of rain coming down from the top of the parking lot and flooding in front of the store. There was so much hail that it formed little ice bergs running through the parking lot; it was really neat.” The store sustained no damage.
Idyllwild School experienced flooding in some of the classrooms. “We had two classrooms that were flooded so district is working on that right now. We weren’t able to get the sandbags out in time, it came too quick,” said Principal Matt Kramer.
“The C Building by Saunders Meadow got flooded. The water comes right down the street and diverts down. It ends up coming right down the hallway into the classrooms. We also have flooding in the main hallway, but it didn’t get into the classrooms there, just in the hallway. The kids really got a kick out of the hail.”
Mitch Hill of Hemet Unified School District was sent to Idyllwild to assist with the clean-up efforts at the school. “The roads weren’t too bad. About two-thirds of the way up was when you started seeing where the water had come over the roads. They had the snow plows running to clear the mud off. The places where the fire was you could see where a flash flood came across the road,” Hill said.
More rain is expected. The National Weather Service is forecasting a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms through Friday with a 20 percent chance on Saturday.
Category: Idyllwild News