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Severe thunderstorm uproots trees, floods roads

For a short time Monday night, a thunderstorm pummeled Merced, lighting up the sky, downing tree limbs and flooding some streets.

The National Weather Service posted a thunderstorm warning about 6 p.m. for Merced and Mariposa counties, along with much of the San Joaquin Valley.

Lt. Matt Williams of the Merced Police Department said two noninjury auto accidents were reported during the storm and there were 21 incidents where road hazards were reported.

Mike Conway, city of Merced spokesman, said seven public works crew members were called out on overtime to unclog plugged storm drains and clear fallen tree limbs from roads. Initially there were eight downed tree limbs reported but Conway expected at least 15 such incidents by the end of the evening.

A 100-year-old pine tree fell into the front two bedrooms of a home owned by Laura and Lowell Warner on Stretch Road. Laura Warner said damage is likely extensive and there is a crack in the kitchen wall. The bedrooms were originally a screened-in porch and now the windows have been knocked out by the fallen tree.

Warner said her family was not at home when the accident happened. She said she and her husband have lived in the 60-year-old ranch house for 40 years and nothing major had happened before.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Gary Sanger said a line of severe thunderstorms passed through Merced, part of a low-pressure system off the Central Coast that is the remains of tropical storm Kiko. Wind speeds of 33 mph were recorded at 6:20 p.m. at Merced Municipal Airport.

The Valley will be dry through the rest of this week, with rain expected in the foothills and at higher elevations, Sanger said.

Tree limbs were reported down on Brimmer Road, West Olive Avenue, East 21st Street, Carmel Road, Cypress Avenue, and Yosemite Avenue at R Street. Power lines were reported down at Highway 140 and Easy Street and a cotton module caught on fire in the El Nido area.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or