Traffic Blocked, Thousands Lose Power in Surprise Storm - NBC 7 San Diego

Traffic Blocked, Thousands Lose Power in Surprise Storm

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    Trees Crash Down in San Diego Storm: RAW VIDEO

    WARNING: This video contains explicit language. Powerful winds sent two trees crashing down outside homes in San Diego on Sept. 16, 2014. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014)

    A surprise storm wreaked havoc on central San Diego, its coastline and downtown on Tuesday afternoon, prompting a Sig alert, leading thousands to lose power and causing extensive damage.

    More than 6,000 customers were without power Tuesday afternoon, and State Route 163 was shut down in both directions after a Sig alert was issued just after 6 p.m.

    All northbound and southbound lanes of 163 south of Interstate 8 were closed due to downed eucalyptus trees. The Robinson Avenue and Washington Street exits off SR-163 were also shut down, but crews were able to clear them around 9 p.m.

    As of 9:30 p.m., three SR-163 lanes remained closed because trees along the side appeared ready to fall over at any moment. California Highway Patrol and CalTrans officials wanted to investigate the vegetation to make sure it is safe before reopening the freeway.

    Wild Winds Wreak Havoc in San DiegoWild Winds Wreak Havoc in San Diego

    Meanwhile, San Diego Gas & Electric was reporting on its website that 4,683 customers were in the dark in Mission Valley, Kearny Mesa and Tierrasanta. Another 2,552 lost power in the areas of North Park, Hillcrest, Normal Heights, Mission Hills, Old Town and University Heights.

    The lights went out for several hundred others in Escondido, Pala, Santee, Carlton Hills, Fallbrook, Rancho San Diego, Spring Valley, Casa De Oro, Mount Helix and La Mesa.

    In the North Park area, crews had most electricity restored by 8:30 Tuesday night, according to SDG&E’s website.

    Thunderstorm Damages Trees, Vehicles in East CountyThunderstorm Damages Trees, Vehicles in East County

    In Mission Valley, only 141 people were still without power by 9:30 p.m.

    As for the other areas, power was estimated to be back up between 9 p.m. Tuesday to Wednesday at 2 a.m.

    The storm caused extensive damage throughout San Diego, as numerous downed trees were reported as well as lightning strikes. In the Pacific Beach area, many spectators on social media captured a palm tree on fire following one lightning strike.

    Photographer Kit Corry tweeted these photos:

    At Montgomery Field, winds caught up small planes and flipped them over onto the runway. One even went flying unintentionally over a fence and onto two cars.

    A downed tree in Serra Mesa sent hundreds of pounds of branches crashing into another two vehicles.

    Viewer sent in pictures of uprooted trees, cable lines knocked down and blocked roads across the county.

    Inside a bar called Live Wire on El Cajon Boulevard, winds sent a tree shooting through their roof. One branch broke through the main room and decimated a trophy case inside.

    Storm Flips Over Planes at Montgomery FieldStorm Flips Over Planes at Montgomery Field

    Another long branch poked straight down from the roof into the bathroom, just inches from the toilet. Thankfully, no one was there at the time.

    San Diego's storm is unrelated to the microburst that hit East County earlier in the afternoon, bringing high winds and heavy rains, said NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap. It was a pop-up thunderstorm brought on by an unstable atmosphere, she said.