By SEAN BATURA
As clouds suddenly darkened the sky and emptied a brief flood of rain over the San Marcos at about 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, tornado-strength winds assaulted the Westover neighborhood, knocking down trees and power lines in the area near Bishop Street, Hopkins Street, and Delmar Street.
San Marcos Fire Marshal Ken Bell called the destructive phenomenon “straight-line wind,” which, he said, produces different damage patterns than tornadoes. Winds reportedly surged up to 45 miles per hour.
“It knocked down approximately 25 to 30 trees, blocking roadways,” Bell said. “About half a dozen power lines were taken down. A couple of cars had some trees laying on them. Those all got resolved.”
Bell said multiple city work crews, in addition to members of the city’s fire and police departments, had removed all the debris from streets about two hours after the straight-line wind.
“Damage assessments are going on first thing in the morning,” Bell said. “Since it’s such a very localized situation, we’ll have the National Weather Service out probably tomorrow to do an evaluation of our damages. We do that in cooperation with them. It helps with insurance claims and such. They can actually identify and isolate the area where the damages are, so there’s no false claims from folks from other areas of town that weren’t affected.”
Bell said the damage to trees was facilitated by the recent drought, which, he said, weakened arboreal root systems throughout the city. Bell said Chinaberry, Cedar, and “light trees” sustained the most damage. Bell said the straight-wind damaged one Crape Myrtle.
Bell said the last straight-line wind in San Marcos occurred about three years ago, when one such gust toppled power lines along Interstate-35, blew out windows at the San Marcos Police Department’s (SMPD) headquarters, tore away rooftops from industrial buildings along the freeway, removed roofs from some houses on MLK Drive, collapsed an apartment complex carport, exposed gas lines, and trapped a policeman in his cruiser.Email | Print