Fast-moving thunderstorms that brought wind gusts of at least 50 miles per hour toppled scaffolding on a downtown building and left thousands without power late Thursday and early Friday.

The high winds knocked over approximately 165 feet of scaffolding on the AT&T building at Martin and East Navarro streets and left a pile of twisted metal that damaged St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and left three people with minor injuries as they fled the falling metal.

San Antonio firefighters responded after a call at 9:30 p.m. and found the three people who suffered minor cuts and bruises as they ran from a bus stop to avoid getting hit, San Antonio Fire Department public information officer Joe Arrington said in an email. Their injuries weren’t serious enough to require a hospital trip, and firefighters gave the injured rides home, he said.

Construction crews work to assess damage caused by fallen scaffolding Thursday evening on East Martin Street. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The storms that hit San Antonio late Thursday were tied to Imelda, a tropical depression that has caused severe flooding in East Texas, said Brett Williams, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

Weather stations recorded wind gusts of 46 miles per hour at the San Antonio International Airport, 45 miles per hour at Stinson Municipal Airport, and 50 miles per hour at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, though some gusts could have reached up to 60 miles per hour, he said.

“Fifty miles per hour I would imagine would be enough to blow over some scaffolding,” Williams said. “It’s not the most secure thing in the world.”

A pickup truck was damaged following the collapse of scaffolding along East Martin Street downtown. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Around 9:30 a.m. Friday morning, private contractors with Americrane, scaffolding provider Big City Access, and demolition company Robles 1 were working on clearing the debris. One block of East Martin Street remains closed between Jefferson and Navarro, along with a section of Navarro Street north of East Martin. Other street closures near Travis Park are related to the Jazz’SA Live festival happening over the weekend.

The storm also brought heavy rains to parts of the city. Nearly 2 ¼ inches were recorded at Randolph, and one citizen weather observer near Loop 410 and Interstate 35 east of downtown recorded just over 3 ½ inches, Williams said.

The storm also served up roughly 5,300 lighting strikes that affected CPS Energy’s system, said Melissa Sorola, the utility’s corporate communications director. At around midnight, approximately 12,000 CPS Energy customers were without power.

“Our crews worked throughout the night to safely restore their power and by 5 a.m. this morning, there were around 600 customers that were out,” Sorola said in a text message. “Our team continues to work to restore their power.”

National Weather Service forecasters are predicting more isolated and scattered thunderstorms along and east of Interstate 35 on Friday, with the potential for heavy rain and gusty winds.

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Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.