Sudden windstorm results in damage

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Sudden windstorm results in damageThe morning of July 2 was bright, cheery and calm — until about 9 a.m. when a sudden windstorm kicked up, catching many Ridgecrest residents off guard. Airborne dust obscured vision, while winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour pushed down telephone poles, knocked over trees and damaged structures around town.

According to Keith Adams, aviation forecaster at the China Lake Weather Office, the wind event, commonly called a microburst, lasted about an hour.

“It was actually a collapsing thunderstorm,” said Adams, who was on duty at the time the microburst hit. “We first started observing thunderstorm activity in the area and issued a warning at 6:45 a.m. By 8 a.m. that one started to recede.

“A second thunderstorm started picking up winds at about 7:50. The winds were up to 31 knots with gusts up to 42 knots — that’s about 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour. It went north and collapsed.

“South of the field about 7:06 a.m. we observed another thunderstorm building. It moved onto the airfield at 7:46 and moved across the field around 7:56. It hit a maximum of 52 knots, or about 60 miles per hour at 9:01 and continued for about 12 minutes at that level.

“By 9:12 it died down to about 23 knots gusting to 39, and by 9:46 it collapsed down to the standard 15 knots gusting to 25, which would be about 26 miles per hour, gusting up to 45 miles per hour.”

While no observable damage was done at the airfield at China Lake, there was some damage around town, with downed power lines and at least one fire started by electrical sparks. The Maturango Museum was just one of the places around town losing well-loved shade trees to the event.

Story First Published: 2013-07-17