A microburst of unusual weather struck parts of Banning Saturday afternoon, leaving behind uprooted trees and sheared branches scattered around Sylvan Park.

One tree on a residential cul de sac caught fire, and some residents reported being without power for a few hours.

“Like a mini-tornado, is what it felt like,” Daniele Savard, a Banning resident who works at the Banning Police Department, told KMIR in a live interview conducted a day later on July 8. “It was very odd. It was over 100 degrees and then the temperature in my vehicle dropped down to 68 degrees and it started raining like monsoons and heavy winds, and we saw trees falling over, trees on fire …”

According to the website weathercurrents.com , a post shortly after midnight Saturday morning claimed “Monsoonal moisture became noticeable by early Friday afternoon, with increasing cloudiness encompassing Inland communities. Thunderstorm activity was too weak and sporadic to be notable; however, this may change Saturday … temperatures are expected to still be very hot … “

Friends of Stagecoach Days Committee President Amy Pippenger, who lives closer to Sun Lakes Country Club, were having a celebration of life event for the late longtime local resident Jack McCafferty Saturday afternoon.

Strong gusts of wind, rain that “went sideways, from north to south” were interspersed with periods of calm, but it was constantly overcast.

“It was really humid, and there were breaks in the wind, but it went on for several hours; maybe 11:30 in the morning until nearly 4 in the afternoon,” Pippenger says.

The southern area of Banning did not seem to get the severe wind gusts that uprooted 100 year-old trees around Sylvan Park to the north.

Jose Benitez was at home watching TV with his wife Lindsey Dalton and their 3-year-old son Jacob Benitez.

“We heard the thunderstorm start and the wind; it started pouring and then we lost power,” Benitez says. “It was just unexpected.”

Benitez says he witnessed cars cautiously pulling over due to some flooding along streets, and trees knocked over.

“I was worried our wooden fence was going to blow over. I had just installed it” nearly three months ago, he says.

It was too hot and humid to stay at their home on Park Avenue without air conditioning; when the power had not come back on after an hour, they headed a few blocks away to seek relief at their mother’s home near Repplier Park.

“Everything was fine” weather-wise over there. “It was like we had been in a whole different world” by Sylvan Park, Benitez says.

The summer lunch program that is normally scheduled to be served to children under 18 out of Sylvan Park has been moved to Hemmerling Elementary School at 1928 W. Nicolet St.

According to Public Works Director Art Vela, damage reported by residents seemed to be restricted to a “six-block corridor around Sylvan Park. I drove around and stopped by Roosevelt Williams Park, where you couldn’t even feel wind.”

Banning Electric Utility’s recently appointed director Tom Miller reported that “storm outages affected the western part of the community with approximately 3,000 customers out of power during the height of outages, with the majority of customers having been restored by 5 p.m.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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