Environment & Science

Southern California's wild weather calms down

Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Ralph Moreno, center, uses a wet vac to clean up water and debris in the hallway of the band room at Elsinore High School in Wildomar after a flash flood Tuesday. He started cleaning up flood damage at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and didn't leave until 2 a.m., he said.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
The roof of the dugout for the Elsinore High School baseball team blew off during the flash flood and high winds event Tuesday.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
A Elsinore High School baseball hat lays in the mud after a flash flood and high winds took the roof off of the dugout on campus.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Debris litters the track at Elsinore High School after a flash flood and high wind event Tuesday in Wildomar.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
A wheelbarrow is covered in debris at the baseball field of Elsinore High School after a flash flood damaged the campus in Wildomar.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
A port-o-potty blew over during the flash flood event at Elsinore High School in Wildomar. No one was inside at the time.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Fernando Hernandez sections a downed tree in front of a home in Wildomar after high winds and a flash flood inundated the rural town in Riverside County Tuesday.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
A tree fell onto a home after high winds and flash flooding in Wildomar Tuesday.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Diane Duncan shovels mud from her driveway as she cleans up from the flash flooding in Wildomar.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Dave McGarry sweep debris from his roof after discovering a leak during the flash flood event Tuesday in Wildomar.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
High winds ripped a tree from the ground in front of a home Tuesday in Wildomar.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Water and silt fills a room that stores instruments for the Elsinore High School band after a flash flood inundated the campus Tuesday.
Storm clouds loom east of Wildomar on Wednesday where a flash flood event damaged Elsinore High School and multiple homes the day before.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC


Southern California's ugly mix of heat and thunderstorms began to ease Wednesday and forecasters said cooler, calmer weather will prevail through the week.

Triple-digit temperatures that baked much of the region since the beginning of the week fell as much as 10 degrees in many areas.

Downtown Los Angeles, where Tuesday's high of 103 matched century-old records for the date, only reached the mid-90s.

Palm Springs hit 111 on Monday but only 102 on Wednesday.

A day earlier, moisture from the remnants of Mexico's Tropical Storm Odile created unsettled conditions that spawned lightning, minor flooding and gusty winds in the deserts and mountains.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood watches through Wednesday night but cancelled one for parts of Los Angeles County hours early as conditions improved.

"The thunderstorms that were developing earlier just sort of died off," said Rich Thompson, a meteorologist in Oxnard. "The atmospheric instability just wasn't there."

While lingering humidity and heat made for a sticky, miserable day in many areas, fewer people apparently were glued to the air conditioner.

For the first time in three days, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said peak electrical demand failed to hit a new record for the year.

Temperatures hit 10 to 15 degrees above normal for the season during the heat wave, forecasters said.

However, a cooling sea breeze and marine cloud cover were moving in that should drop temperatures to around normal for the next seven days or so, Thompson said.

"I hope everyone appreciates the heat break," he said.

However, high surf and dangerous rip currents were expected to pound the region's south-facing beaches through Thursday, the weather service said.

Tuesday's raging thunderstorms caused numerous problems in the San Diego and inland regions of Southern California and were blamed for one fatality.

The Desert Sun newspaper reported that a 66-year-old man from Joshua Tree was killed when a flash flood carried away and overturned his SUV as he tried to cross a desert wash.

Trees smashed several cars and trucks and hit the front of a school bus in Spring Valley but nobody was hurt, authorities said. In San Diego, Montgomery Field airport reported that high winds flipped over several small planes, Watkins said.

This story has been updated.