Coachella Valley ringed By lightning and rain

INDIO, Calif. - A strong set of thunderstorms was over the mountains southwest of Palm Springs today, and threatened to inundate desert resort cities in the Coachella Valley.

The afternoon downpours came as several roads remained either flooded or covered with downed power poles as a result of Saturday's rain above Palm Springs, and across a board swath of desert east of Indio, firefighters said today.

At 2:30, National Weather Service radar showed a solid line of thunderstorms with very heavy rain both southeast and southwest of Palm Springs. Very-heavy rains were falling in Palm Canyon and along Route 74 in the mountains above Rancho Mirage.

The NWS predicted that by 3 p.m., more water would flow north in the canyons and drainages from the the Santa Rosa Mountains into the Coachella Valley.

Heavy rain was also predicted for the frshly-burned western slopes of the San Jacinto Mountains, with runoff heading down towards Valle Vista, Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Mountain Center.

Yet to Martha Sanchez, owner of Idyllwild Vacation Cabins, the inclement weather hasn't had much of an impact to the community, especially since business was running smoothly. ``It's been raining, but that's it,'' she said.

Cal Fire Engineer Kal Kulbin was familiar with the flash flood warning but said he hasn't seen anything too adverse.

``There's very light rain falling, and I'm up here in Pine Cove. You can hardly see it,'' Kulbin said. ``As of right now there's nothing going on.''

On Saturday, heavy rain in the same mountains caused Palm Canyon Wash to flow across the roadway at Araby Drive in Palm Springs. That caused the dozen or so residents of the canyon south of Highway 111 to lose one of two accessways to their homes.

In the deserts of eastern Riverside County, as many as 40 power poles were toppled by winds and flash flooding near Desert Center.

Southern California Edison officials said 367 accounts in the Desert Center, Eagle Mountain and other desert areas were blacked out, spokesman Paul Klein said. As poles need to be rebuilt, full restoration of power was not expected until Tuesday afternoon.

A portable generator was brought in to keep groundwater pumps running to supply water to 150 homes near Lake Tamarisk, a dry desert lake about 45 miles east of Indio.

The heavy storm struck the largely-uninhabited desert from Indio east to Blythe Saturday afternoon. Today, Eagle Mountain Road, Corn Springs Road and Chuckwalla Valley roads were still being repaired, the California Highway Patrol officers said.

But north of Needles, U.S. 95 was closed by flash flooding, and the highway from Needles to Laughlin, Nev. was closed.

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