Powerful monsoon prompts K-12 school closures, daylong power outages in Barstow

·3 min read
Barstow locals who sought breakfast or lunch at eateries such as the joint Subway-Six Beans Coffee Co. off Deseret Avenue were disappointed Aug. 9, 2022, due to blackout-induced closures.
Barstow locals who sought breakfast or lunch at eateries such as the joint Subway-Six Beans Coffee Co. off Deseret Avenue were disappointed Aug. 9, 2022, due to blackout-induced closures.

A wave of powerful winds, rain and thunder that rolled through the High Desert Monday prompted many school closures and power outages across Barstow. Some residents are still without energy more than a day into the blackouts.

The lights had turned back on for some Monday night, but some traffic lights on Main Street were still shot and being supplemented by portable stop signs. As of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, more than 2,200 Barstow residents and neighboring unincorporated towns of Daggett and Newberry Springs were still without power, according to Southern California Edison's website.

Most people had their energy restored by Wednesday, but not all. Seven SCE customers in the Barstow area still lacked power due to "storm conditions" as of about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, per the utility's website.

The week-opening storm's impact left all K-12 students in Barstow with a day off.

"Due to power outages across the Barstow area caused by Monday’s strong thunderstorm, classes at all schools in the Barstow Unified School District are canceled today," BUSD spokesperson Marseilles Chavez told the Daily Press in an email Tuesday morning.

Chavez added, "all BUSD employees are to report to work today, where their site administrator will give them further instructions."

The outages also hit local businesses.

Barstow locals craving breakfast or lunch at eateries such as Starlight Donuts or the joint Subway-Six Beans Coffee Co. off Deseret Avenue were met with signs Tuesday asking them to come back later due to blackout-induced closures.

Brandy Tripp, a resident in the northern area of Barstow, said her power was expected to be back on Tuesday afternoon.

"My deep freezer, everything is unthawed," she said.

The National Weather Service had previously warned of monsoon waves that hit the High Desert throughout the week. Still, the intensity of the Monday afternoon wave went beyond what those forecasts predicted.

The federal government tapped its Emergency Alert System for the third time in three weeks to personally buzz the cellphones of Barstow-area residents around 3 p.m. Monday with a warning that "dangerous and life-threatening" flooding may be inbound. Power outages kicked in en masse soon after.

Barstow cellphones received a second "EAS ACTIVATION" in two weeks on July 31, a reference to the Emergency Alert System run by the National Weather Service, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Barstow cellphones received a second "EAS ACTIVATION" in two weeks on July 31, a reference to the Emergency Alert System run by the National Weather Service, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The flooding-focused "EAS ACTIVATION," as stated in the NWS website's warning, is a reference to the Emergency Alert System jointly run by the NWS, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Forecasts as of Wednesday morning predicted a calmer week to come. The NWS forecast for the Barstow-Daggett area were for daily highs of 98 to 100 degrees and nightly highs of 76 to 78 degrees each day up to next Tuesday, with clear skies projected for all of that time aside from a 20% chance of thunderstorms after 11 a.m. Saturday.

NWS San Diego forecaster Alex Tardy told the Daily Press that 0.74 inches of rain had been logged in the area of the Barstow landfill after Monday's monsoon wave.

"It was similar to the recent thunderstorms we've had in the High Desert, except yesterday was widespread over the mountains and deserts including all the way down to Ocotillo," Tardy said Tuesday morning.

Charlie McGee covers California’s High Desert for the Daily Press, focusing on the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities. He is also a Report for America corps member with The GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and worldwide. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or cmcgee@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Monsoon weather shuts High Desert schools, sparks Barstow power outage