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More than 53,000 CPS Energy customers are without power as of 7 p.m. after severe thunderstorms and hail ripped through central San Antonio.
As rush hour traffic-clogged roads, thunderstorms with lightning and sometimes quarter-sized hail moved across the city roughly from northwest to southeast. The storms uprooted trees, knocked down limbs and affected power lines across the city.
The storm most severely affected power in the 78212 and 78201 ZIP codes north of downtown, according to the utility.
“We had a combination of some deeper moisture from the Gulf of Mexico in place across the region today, as well as ample heating,” said Melissa Huffman, National Weather Service meteorologist. “We had a little disturbance moving across the Southern Plains. … The combination of these factors created an environment for strong to severe thunderstorms to develop.”
In a news release, CPS Energy officials said the storm knocked down tree limbs onto power lines. Storms also can cause outages by bringing power lines in contact with other power lines, or when lightning strikes transformers, utility poles, or other equipment.
“CPS Energy crews are working diligently to restore power for our customers this evening,” said Rudy Garza, senior vice president of distribution services and operations, in a prepared statement.
Strong winds, rain, and flooding could slow crews down as they work to restore power, the release states.
Such storms can be typically here this time of year. On average, May and early June are San Antonio’s wettest months, according to rainfall data.
“Typically, spring is the time of year when we see most of our thunderstorm activity,” Huffman said. “We’re kind of pushing it now when we’re getting into early June, but it’s not unusual for us.”
That rain can turn to hail when currents of rising and falling air buffet water droplets into the colder reaches of the atmosphere.
“It can actually end up lofting a lot of water,” she said. “If you keep that water aloft long enough where temperatures are below freezing, it can start forming ice.”