Yesterday afternoon while working at Rural/Metro station 2 in the Foothills, paramedic firefighter Erika Walton was able to catch the storm on video from the back parking lot
Skies blackened in Yuma Sunday as a severe thunderstorm rolls in from the east. More to come on YumaSun.com..
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Wind, rain, sand trounce Yuma area
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Severe thunderstorms that produced damaging winds, blowing dust and heavy rainfall swept through the Yuma area Sunday evening, knocking out power to many homes and businesses throughout the county.
As of about 8:30 p.m., Arizona Public Service spokesman Steven Gotfried said power outages had been reported in Yuma, Somerton and the Foothills, affecting some 19,000 customers. He added that he did not know when power to those areas would be fully restored.
“It will be several hours before we have a good understand of the situation. Customers can expect to have their power restored periodically.”
Gotfried said APS had dispatched work crews to begin assessing the damage and that they were still in the process of locating downed power poles and lines.
According to meteorologist Charlotte Dewey, at about 4 p.m. the National Weather Service began tracking a large system of storms over the international border that was heading northwest toward the Yuma area. She said radar indicates the storms hit the Yuma area at about 5:30 p.m. and remained in the area for about two hours before moving into southeast California.
“There are still some lingering showers, but the major wind threat has diminished. Very strong winds were associated with this storm. It's not uncommon for thunderstorms.”
Wind gusts were reported up to 66 mph at Yuma International Airport.
Dewey said the severe thunderstorms were caused by a low pressure system over Baja California. As the system continues to move east, she said, it could bring thunderstorms across southwest Arizona for the next two days.
Although she did not have any initial reports of how much rain had fallen, Dewey said she received a couple of reports of downed power poles and power outages in many areas, which could have been caused by microbursts.
“They did have signatures of microbursts, and that may have been the cause of the power pole damages,” Dewey said.
One of those microbursts caused some damage to Rural/Metro Fire Station 2, caving in one of its bay doors and tearing down its flagpole.
“A huge gust of wind hit the bay door,” said Rural/Metro spokeswoman Charly McMurdie. “Fortunately, one of the firefighters was able to move the ambulance out of the way before the door could hit it.”
McMurdie said Rural/Metro had at least six reports of power poles and lines down along Frontage Road and Foothills Boulevard. Firefighters were on the scene of a fallen power line at 42nd Street and Foothills Boulevard for several hours.
Also, McMurdie said, two Rural/Metro fire stations in the Foothills were without power.
City of Yuma spokeswoman Martha Guzman said she was not aware of any storm-related emergencies Sunday night, but added that the city's pumping stations were out for about an hour during the storm until a backup generator kicked in.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.