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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Wind ravages Ridgecrest

  • Wind gusts reach 60 mph, causes base closure and tress to fall during 15-minute storm
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  • A series of powerful microburst storms tossed dust into the air on Tuesday, causing damage around town and kicking up a powerful dust storm.
    According to the National Weather Service, the microbursts generated 60-mph gusts of wind.
    NWS said it only lasted 15 minutes and information was based out of the weather station at Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake.
    Drivers faced sharply reduced visibility on the road during the 15 minutes due to the high volume of dust kicked up by the wind.
    Fifteen minutes was enough to cause damage across the Indian Wells Valley.
    Reports of power outages at Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake were confirmed by Public Affairs Officer Peggy Shoaf Tuesday by phone.
    Shoaf said that power was out at the administration building and other areas of the base, and was closed down at 11 a.m. due to a downed power line on Inyokern Road.
    "One of those power lines provides power to the base," said Shoaf by phone on Tuesday.
    Shoaf said that the base had to close down its daycare center as per the facility's policy. The daycare center had called parents to have its children picked up.
    Shoaf said Cmdr. Ron Tribble, NAWS China Lake's public works officer, was assessing the damage and would determine the full extent of the damage.
    NAWS China Lake Public Affairs later updated its status to indicate the base's Richmond and Sandquist gates were closed as of 2 p.m., while the Lauritsen and Main gates remained open.
    Power lines were reported down at Inyokern Road and Brady Street and on Church Avenue near Monroe Middle School.
    Deborah Hess, public affairs manager for SCE, said Tuesday that 2,000 people lost power as a result.
    Hess said that additional SCE crews had been called in to help restore power and repair damage to company equipment.
    NAWS China Lake estimated that it would not have power up until midnight on July 3.
    In Ridgecrest, winds kicked in one set of doors at the Home Depot on China Lake Boulevard, and caused damage to several structures. Ridgecrest Police Department officers and Kern County Fire Department deployed several units to answer calls.
    On Ridgecrest Boulevard, the gusts sheared off a portion of Sierra Furniture's sign near My Enchanted Cottage.
    The Church of the Nazarene found a number of its solar panels ripped from its roof during the 15-minute gust, according to Gregg Griffin, the church's associate pastor.
    "The wind was blowing around one second and the next it's like the entire building was shaking," Griffin said Tuesday. "The next thing I hear is crash, crash, crash, and when I came out it was all over the roof."
    Griffin said the church sustained damage to some of its solar panels, parts of the roof and two of its air conditioning units.
    Page 2 of 2 - "It was a matter of five minutes and it was over with," Griffin said. "I tried to come out but I couldn't open the door."
    Griffin said he was accustomed to seeing similar weather patterns back on the East Coast, adding that the winds blowing through Ridgecrest were strong.
    "The wind literally was shaking the entire building, and I could hear it roll the panels up like they were burritos," Griffin said.
    Griffin estimated the wind caused $60,000 in damages to the solar panels, but said the church would be contacting its insurance agency for a official assessment.
    "I learned that you don't pick up solar panels without gloves," Griffin joked.

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