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Microburst blamed for tornado-type activity in Riverside County

August 13, 2012 |  6:10 am

Weather officials are saying they believe that it was a sudden burst of wind, not a tornado, that snapped power lines and tree limbs in Riverside County on Sunday afternoon.

Residents near Lake Elsinore called the Sheriff's Department on Sunday to report a funnel cloud near the junction of California Highway 75 and Interstate 15 about 4:30 p.m. Weather spotters reported at least two funnel clouds in the area, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a tornado advisory that lasted for half an hour.

The wind knocked down several wooden power poles and tree limbs, and tore roofing off homes, the Press-Enterprise reported.

Meteorologists went to the area to try to determine whether a tornado touched down in the area or the damage was caused by a microburst -- a sudden, intense downdraft. About 11 p.m. Sunday, the NWS office in San Diego said the latter was likely to blame, based on observations from the scene and radar readings.

The winds likely gusted between 50 and 55 mph, the weather service said in a statement.

"It didn't look like a tornado,” Nuevo resident Casey McDonald told the Press-Enterprise on Sunday. “It was just some crazy wind.”

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-- Kate Mather

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