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Strong gusts caused the Encinitas Boulevard sign to dangle this past Friday. Public safety representatives responded to a high number of wind-driven incidents due to the stormy weather conditions. Photo by Jared Whitlock
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Stormy weather conditions keep safety officials busy

ENCINITAS — A storm that rolled through the region this past weekend took down power lines, uprooted trees and resulted in minor bluff collapses. All of which city kept public safety officials on their toes.

“Winds were the most significant factor, particularly Friday,” said John Ugrob, supervisor with the Encinitas Public Works Department.

Officials stayed busy moving moving fallen trees out of the public right-of-way at locations like Coast Highway 101, Ugrob said. They also took down or realigned wind-blown streetlights and roadway signs.

Ugrob noted officials responded to calls all day and night Friday and then Saturday in the daytime, during the peak of stormy weather conditions. Luckily, there weren’t any major incidents, he added.

“We were expecting it to be worse,” Ugrob said, adding the wind was as strong as predicted, but the city didn’t get as much rain as forecasts were calling for.

Prior to the storm moving in, public works, fire and lifeguard representatives met up and game-planned how to best address any storm-related issues that might come up, which Ugrob said is typical of any strong rain or wind event.

“We touch base and make sure we have the ability to adjust in case anything critical happens,” Ugrob said.

The storm also sent eight-to-ten foot waves to beaches. Combined with high tides, lifeguards worried about major bluff failures.

Encinitas Lifeguard Captain Larry Giles noted lifeguards monitored vulnerable bluffs at southern Grandview Beach, Swami’s and Cardiff to make sure they stayed intact.

“We look for cracks and fissures,” Giles said, noting they warn homeowners and beachgoers if a bluff looks in danger of failing.

Small pieces of beach bluff collapsed due to precipitation, Giles said, but nothing major.

With rain washing urban runoff downstream, lifeguards posted signs warning the public to stay out of the water at Moonlight Beach due to high bacteria counts.

Relatedly, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health issued an advisory for beachgoers to stay out of coastal waters for 72 hours until after the rain stops. On Tuesday morning, the advisory was still in effect for some beaches.

Giles noted the parking lot adjacent to Cardiff Reef flooded. And the large surf damaged or destroyed around 15 lobster traps.

“We lost a lot of sand out there as well,” Giles said.

But he added most incidents in Encinitas were wind related.

Powerful gusts redirected traffic lights on Friday at Chesterfield Drive and Coast Highway 101, causing confusion for drivers, he said. Winds also broke a railroad-crossing arm near the intersection.

“We’re getting a lot of reports of fallen power lines and trees with the wind — no big surprises,” said Battalion Chief Dismas Abelman with the Encinitas Fire Department on Friday afternoon.

Also, the county’s various swift-water rescue teams were on stand-by. The teams, made up of firefighters and lifeguards, rescues those caught in fast-moving water.

They typically receive more calls during heavy rains, but since those never came, Giles said he wasn’t aware of the team being deployed in North County.