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Waterspout Hits S.D. Yacht Clubs

January 15, 1990|ARMANDO ACUNA | ARMANDO ACUNA, TIMES STAFF WRITER

A rare waterspout touched down at La Playa Cove early Sunday morning, then made its way through the Southwestern and San Diego yacht clubs, tossing small sailboats like matchsticks, before hitting land near the Blue Crab restaurant and damaging a roof of a building.

The waterspout--a tornado created over water--hit about 1:35 a.m. and was part of a strong rainstorm that dumped almost an inch of rain in San Diego before moving east. Skies are expected to clear by this afternoon.

No one was hurt by the waterspout and damage was slight, but the storm produced such unusual conditions that, several hours later at 11:50 a.m., the National Weather Service issued an urgent warning about another waterspout being spotted in the ocean.

The weather service's warning for county coastal waters and out as far as 60 miles was initiated when a pilot reported seeing a waterspout about 10 miles south of Dana Point. The warning was withdrawn at 3:50 p.m.

Pete Slaughter, manager of the Southwestern Yacht Club, said the waterspout went through his facility's small boat yard but did little damage. It tossed a few boat trailers around, tore down a fence next to the maintenance shop, moved a large trash bin as if it was a toy and flung a catamaran on the ground at La Playa Cove over a fence and onto a catamaran at the yacht club. There was also some minor damage to the facility's docks, Slaughter said.

The waterspout then traveled several hundred yards north and hit the San Diego Yacht Club. A spokeswoman there also assessed damage as minimal, mostly to small sailboats such as Sabots and lasers, used mainly by beginning sailors. Damage was mainly confined to the yacht club's east side parking lot, where boats are stacked and stored in racks.

High winds from the waterspout turned the racks over, breaking hulls and masts, and tossed boats from one end of the parking lot to the other. The San Diego Harbor Police reported that some boats were lifted from the facility and thrown onto to the street outside, Anchorage Lane.

Harbor police also said the waterspout caused some moorings to break and small vessels to sink when it moved from the San Diego Yacht Club to the Commercial Basin. Also, police said, some damage occurred near the Blue Crab restaurant in the 4900 block of North Harbor Drive when powerful winds dislodged large planks of wood and tossed them into boats in adjacent parking lots. The roof of a nearby building was also damaged when it was hit by a pole propelled like a dart by the wind.

With that, the waterspout was gone.

According to the National Weather Service, the waterspout was caused by the storm's moist, unstable air. Waterspouts are common off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and along the coasts of Japan and China, but rarely appear in Southern California.

San Diego police and fire officials said they had no reports of weather-related traffic accidents, damage or power outages during the day Sunday.

The showers that covered the San Diego area Sunday were expected to move through coastal areas during the night, bringing a few hours of rain, some of it heavy at times.

Harvey Hastrup, a National Weather Service forecaster, said the last chance of showers should occur at about daybreak today(15), though hail may hit the mountains above 5,000 feet. The weekend storm produced light snow in the mountains and pea-sized hail in the Los Angeles area.

There is another possibility of a storm reaching San Diego sometime Wednesday, though at this point it appears to be weaker than the one which passed through during the weekend.

Elsewhere in the Southland, heavy thundershowers doused the western San Fernando Valley and eastern Ventura County, bringing with them periods of hail.

Pea-size hail fell for about half an hour in several communities--including Northridge, Agoura Hills and Chatsworth. And the heavy rain that fell in sheets in some areas was preceded by thunder and lightning.

* PICTURE: B6

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