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Weather All Wet; Drier Weekend Expected : Medical Building's Roof Collapses; Streets Flooded

November 06, 1987|KATHIE BOZANICH | Times Staff Writer

The roof of a medical building collapsed, lightning and gusty winds downed power lines, and several streets were closed by flooding Thursday as sporadic heavy rains moved through San Diego County for the second consecutive day.

By 4 p.m., Lindbergh Field had received 1.08 inches, making it the second-wettest Nov. 5 on record, according to National Weather Service forecaster Dan Atkin.

There should be drier days ahead, however. Atkin said the forecast is for lingering showers today, followed by a drying and clearing trend through the weekend.

Heavy rainfall early Thursday proved to be too much for the roof of the Health Services Complex building in the 3800 block of Rosecrans Street, said Pat Stalnaker, spokesman for San Diego County Mental Health Services. The building serves as headquarters for county Mental Health Services administrative offices, Stalnaker said.

Equipment Damaged

Several computers, some office equipment and files were exposed to the rain when the roof gave way in two places about 4 a.m. Stalnaker said damage was estimated at $350,000. He estimated the holes in the roof to be 400 square feet each.

Employees who showed up Thursday morning were sent home, said Stalnaker, adding that he did not know when the building will be reopened for use.

The heavy rains were accompanied by thundershowers and a spectacular lightning show during the early morning hours. By noon, about 20 lightning strikes had touched down in San Diego County, said Les Matarazzi, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

"About 200 downstrikes were recorded just west of San Diego County, out over the ocean," Matarazzi said. "There's no way to determine how many actual bolts of lightning there were, but we know somewhere around 20 actually touched ground or something attached to ground."

San Diego Gas & Electric reported that about 27,000 customers lost electricity at some point Thursday because of the storm. Most outages were reported in the Old Town and Sports Arena areas of San Diego, Carlsbad and Escondido, as well as numerous individual circuits.

Debris stuck in a storm drain forced the closure of Rosecrans Street at Midway Drive for about four hours Thursday morning, according to Bill Wolf, spokesman for the San Diego Office of Emergency Management.

Other San Diego city streets closed by flooding included Camino de la Reina where it crosses beneath California 163, and sections of Stadium Way, Mission Center Road and Avenida del Rio in Mission Valley.

"It's gotten to the point that most people know to stay away from those streets during a heavy rain," Wolf said. "We store the barricades out there, and just close it off when the storm hits."

There were the typical fender-benders and minor accidents on San Diego's highways, but no major rain-related accidents, authorities said.

Morning rush-hour traffic was snarled on westbound Interstate 8 after rains washed mud and small rocks from a center divider embankment onto the freeway between College Avenue and Waring Road, a California Highway Patrol spokeswoman said.

"People just aren't used to seeing mud and rocks on the road, so there was some slowing," the spokeswoman said.

No serious mud slides were reported on Palomar Mountain, where a fire in early October blackened more than 16,000 acres, authorities said.

"We've sent a couple of people up there to monitor the situation, but so far it's holding up really well," said Willard Lewis of the San Diego County Office of Disaster Preparedness.

Farmers in the county generally welcomed the unseasonably heavy rains, although growers of crops such as tomatoes and bell peppers said they're praying for sunshine.

Charles Woods, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, said growers of citrus crops and avocados will benefit from the rain, which helps leach the soil of high concentrations of salt that build up as farmers irrigate with imported water through the summer months.

But the rains are tattering field crops such as flowers, Woods said. Luckily, the peak seasons for harvesting the blooms--just before Valentine's and Mother's days--is still months away, he said.

Tomatoes Threatened

Many tomato growers, meanwhile, are worried about the effect the moisture is having on their crops, which are at the peak of harvest.

The water can cause tomatoes to split and it encourages fungus and other diseases. In addition, the muddy farm roads make harvesting tricky for field workers and some tomatoes are getting overripe before they can be picked.

"We're not immune to the same elements that prairie farmers were subject to in the 1880s," said Pete Mackauf, general manager of Carlsbad-based Ukegawa Bros., one of the county's largest vegetable growers. "We suffer the same vulnerability to weather. But while they prayed for rain, the rainfall works against us in this particular part of the country."

Mike Smith, a meteorologist at WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times, says clear, sunny skies with mild temperatures are in store for the weekend.

"San Diegans can expect the beautiful kind of weather Southern California is famous for," Smith said.

There could be some areas of fog in valley areas today because of the wet ground, according to Smith. Coastal area highs will range from 65 to 70 degrees today, with lows dropping to 58 to 62. Saturday and Sunday highs will jump to 68 to 73, with lows in the 60- to 63-degree range.

Surf will continue at three to four feet through the weekend. Ocean temperature is 63 degrees.

Inland valley areas will have highs from 66 to 73 today, jumping up a few degrees on Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures overnight will dip to 48 to 55 today through Sunday.

In the mountains, highs will be 50 to 58 today, and several degrees higher Saturday and Sunday. Lows will drop to near-freezing through the weekend.

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