Storm washes away July rainfall records

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Mission Hills

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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego County finally got a downpour it desperately needed Saturday, according to weather experts.

An inch of rain was collected at Lindbergh Field, the National Weather Service said, which made Saturday the wettest July day in the region's history and set a record for the wettest July ever.

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Heavy rain and thunderstorms blacked out power, flooded streets, cut the Special Olympics torch run short, and forced beach evacuations in the county Saturday as emergency crews responded to weather-related car crashes, rescues, and fires.

Lifeguards withdrew from their towers and warned beachgoers to take shelter as moderate to heavy rain moved ashore along the city's coast in the morning hours. Meteorologists said it was a thunderstorm cell that had moved up from a decaying hurricane off Mexico.

Lifeguards were warned that a "life-threatening'' storm cell was seen just south of Point Loma, and was headed in a northeastern direction at 10:30 a.m, lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky said.

Lifeguards confirmed the system's close proximity and Stropky issued Threat Level 3, which called all on-duty lifeguards to take shelter at headquarters.

Stropky said the beach was not shut down but his team warned beachgoers.

"We notified the public of the imminent threat,'' he said. ``We highly recommend that they leave the area and seek shelter in buildings, away from metal.''

The storm caused the NWS to issue an advisory as city streets and highways flooded. The advisory was scheduled to be lifted at 3 p.m.

As the lightning danced, rain also doused both a South Bay sand castle contest and put  a halt to the Over The Line Tournament, the first full-day stoppage in the baseball event's 62-year history.

Initially, the tournament stopped due to lightning but play resumed.

However, the rains were just too much.

"It wouldn't stop raining,'' Sonny Peterson, a spokesman for the tournament, said. "Bats were flying out of players' hands.''

Peterson planned to expedite the tournament's schedule on Sunday and, if needed, Monday.

"We should be able to finish tomorrow,'' he said.

The weather was predicted to clear by Tuesday, the NWS said.

Freeway lanes and ramps flooded at Genesee at Interstate 5, and on Interstate 15 near Mira Mesa Road, the CHP reported.

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