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Thunderstorms intensify over Kern County, bringing threat of flash flooding

Torrential rain soaks Kern County
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Posted at 5:55 PM, Sep 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-04 01:58:06-04

As predicted, thunderstorms fired up over Kern County Sunday afternoon, intensifying into the evening hours. The storms are fueled by remnant moisture from Tropical Storm Lidia to our south and they're feeding off our excessive heat as Bakersfield topped out at 111 degrees, just one degree shy of the record for this date.

The storms brought gusty winds which triggered blowing dust and debris to the valley before the rain arrived. That led to downed power lines and power outages, along with downed trees, street flooding and major traffic issues.

The line of storms was so bad that at 6:17 the National Weather Service in Hanford issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the I-5 corridor near Buttonwillow Another one followed for the region north of Delano shortly afterward. There were also numerous Flash Flood Warnings for the regions of Frazier Park and Tehachapi. Just before six p.m. the California Highway Patrol closed both directions of Highway 99 just north of White Lane due to a report of mud in the slow lane and power lines down on the road. That caused a traffic backup for miles as cars crawled through the area.

Though rumors ran rampant online tonight, the National Weather Service in Hanford says there is no confirmation of funnel clouds or a tornado within this line of thunderstorms in Kern County. The video of damage and ominous clouds was likely from straight line winds and the gust front, but likely wasn't an organized tornado. There was an indication of rotation in a few of the cells, but nothing strong enough to support a tornado.

The thunderstorm threat continues into the overnight hours, which is obviously dangerous due to the reduced visibility. Scattered showers and isolate thunderstorms can bring torrential rainfall, small hail, gusty winds which leads to blowing dust and debris, and dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning.

Send us your storm photos and videos, but only if you can do so safely. Remember, "when thunder roars, go indoors!"