San Diego

Downed trees, rockslides, power outages: Hilary brings damage to San Diego County

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Hilary was downgraded to a tropical storm just before making landfall in Baja California, Mexico Sunday and reached San Diego County with powerful winds and unusual summer rainfall that had the potential to cause widespread damage across the region.

A tropical storm warning that warned of tropical-storm-force winds that could threaten life and property in San Diego County has since expired but not before some damage was done.

In anticipation of Hilary's arrival, the city of San Diego declared a local state of emergency to secure funds for any potential damage.

Here's how Hilary has left damage across San Diego, so far.

Mudslides, Rockslides

A rockslide closed all lanes of Interstate 8 at In-Ko-Pah on Sunday afternoon, according to CalTrans.

The agency said a boulder the size of a bus was blocking lanes. As of Tuesday night, crews were able to crumble it to a third of its original size.

One eastbound lane and westbound lanes were open as of Tuesday morning. The rest of the roadway from the In-Ko-Pah exit to the Mountain Springs exit was still affected.

CalTrans were continuing to work in the area and said drivers should expect intermittent traffic breaks.

Mud was also blocking a portion of SR-78 near Banning Drive, according to CHP communications. Drivers were also reporting boulders in the roadway from San Filipe to Yaqui Pass.

Power Outages

Most people were able to get their power back on Monday morning after more than 1,600 customers were without power Sunday night, according to San Diego Gas & Electric's weather map, but it was unclear if all of the outages were due to weather.

Monday morning, more than 300 people were still affected including, Poway, Escondido, Ladera Ranch, Old Town, Julian and the Otay Mesa area.There were 118 customers without power in Julian and 179 in Poway.

By the afternoon, only a handful of customers remained without power and most were in the process of being repaired by SDG&E with restoration times Monday evening.

Thousands of customers in San Diego are without power as tropical storm Hilary moves in. Aug. 20, 2023.
SDG&E Outage map
Thousands of customers in San Diego are without power as tropical storm Hilary moves in. Aug. 20, 2023.

SDG&E was working to determine the cause and estimated restoration time.

The outages were unplanned and the utility company asks people to check the outage map for the latest updates and "continue to be prepared for any weather impacts that might come our way."

You can find the up-to-date outage map here.

Flooding and road closures

As the San Diego River swelled, more than a dozen people were in need of rescue near Fashion Valley.

When multiple swift water rescue teams arrived to the scene, they found 14 people on an island of the river and got them out individually, SDFD Deputy Chief of Operations Dan Eddy said. Two of the 14 people were evaluated for injuries.

Flash Flood Warnings

A flash flood warning was issued for central San Diego County until 4 p.m. Sunday. The National Weather Service said the radar showed heavy rain falling at a rate of 1 to 1.5 inches per hour.

The areas affected include Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Mount Laguna, Hwy S1 Between Lake Cuyamaca And Mount Laguna, Lake Cuyamaca, Hwy 79 Between Julian and Lake Cuyamaca, Descanso, Pine Valley, Hwy S2 Between Shelter Valley And Agua Caliente, Boulder Creek and Guatay.

Residents were advised to stay off the roads when possible. Those who must drive should always avoid flooded roadways and turn around to avoid drowning. A spokesperson for the NWS said drowning was the most common death amid tropical storms.

In anticipation of possible flooding, the city of San Diego closed the following roadways:

  • Camino De La Reina at Camino De La Siesta (westbound)
  • Camino De La Reina west of Avenida Del Rio (eastbound)
  • San Diego Mission Road between Fairmount and Caminito Yucatan (east/west)
  • Qualcomm Way and Rio San Diego (southbound)
  • Mission Center Rd between Hazard Center Dr & Camino De La Reina (northbound)
  • Ward Rd at Camino Del Rio N (southbound)
  • Camino Del Este between Station Village Dr & Camino De La Reina (both)
  • Hazard Center Dr below SR 163

State Route 94 between College Avenue and College Grove Way and all lanes of State Route 78 from Borrego Springs Road to San Felipe and SR-78 at El Camino Real reopened Monday morning after they were closed due to flooding.

The county was also closing roadways and giving real-time updates on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Get updates here.

Downed Trees

A downed tree lies on the ground in Wynola between Santa Ysabel and Julian, as Tropical Storm Hilary moves into San Diego County, Aug. 20, 2023.
NBC 7 San Diego/Reporter Joe Little
A downed tree lies on the ground in Wynola between Santa Ysabel and Julian, as Tropical Storm Hilary moves into San Diego County, Aug. 20, 2023.

Trees and tree branches were collapsing along state Route 78 toward Julian. NBC 7's Joe Little counted four trees limbs or trees down on his way to the mountain town, which was experiencing heavy rainfall around noon and was under a flash flood watch.

One collapse near Santa Ysabel landed on some power lines and knocked out power to a real estate company nearby.

In La Jolla, a large tree collapsed just outside San Diego fire station #9 in La Jolla. The tree was cordoned off in the roadway and it did not appear to do any damage to surrounding property.

This story will be updated with the latest storm damage information. Check back for the latest details.

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