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Fierce winds in Lodi knock down trees, knock out power

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Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2008 10:00 pm

Last week, Lodi sweltered through triple-digit heat. This week, it's howling winds. Does that mean next week will bring rain?

Well, no, but the wind will die down, forecasters say.

The strong winds knocked down several large trees, including a well-recognized one at Lodi Lake and another that knocked out power to 4,001 customers Thursday morning.

A city wind gauge clocked gusts at 38 mph, and that was the cause of Thursday's power outage that began at 8:44 a.m., said Rob Lechner, customer service manager for Lodi Electric Utility.

The culprit, he said, was a tree at Hale Park, at Stockton and Locust streets. The locust tree had split years ago, and half of it blew into power lines and came to rest against a power pole.

The power lines actually held the tree up, and the only actual damage was a bent bolt on the pole and a broken glass encasing, both minor issues, Lechner said.

Electric crews isolated the problem and began rerouting electricity, restoring it to 2,000 customers by 9:02 a.m., Lechner said. Another 1,300 got power at 10:07 a.m., and the remaining 701 customers had electricity at 10:23 a.m.

Areas affected by the power outage included neighborhoods between the Mokelumne River and Kettleman Lane, and from Hutchins Street to Highway 99, Lechner said.

Meanwhile, Lodi residents pulled branches from yards and dodged blowing leaves and dust. Despite the power outage that temporarily blackened some traffic signals, no vehicle collisions were attributed to the signal lights, according to police.

Windiest: Contrary to popular belief, Chicago, aka "The Windy City," is not the windiest city in the United States. According to the National Climatic Data Center's list of annual average wind speeds, the windiest cities on the continental United States are:
  • Dodge City, Kan.
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Rochester, Minn.

    Strongest: The strongest wind ever recorded clocked in at 231 mph at the Mount Washington weather observatory in New Hampshire. On Dec. 16, 1997, staff at an Air Force Base in Guam reported a gust of 236 mph, although that speed could not be substantiated and Mount Washington's record stands.

    Can you name that wind?: Many of the world's winds have their own names, which include the following:

  • Bentu de Soli: An east wind on the coast of Sardinia
  • Haboob: A strong wind or sandstorm in northern and central Sudan.
  • Nashi, N'aschi: A southwest wind that occurs in winter on the Iranian coast of the Persian Gulf.
  • Willy-willy: A tropical cyclone in southwest Australia.
  • Levanter: A strong east wind of the Mediterranean near the Strait of Gibraltar.

    Wind power: California has more than 13,000 wind turbines, which produce about 4,300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, or about enough power to light a city the size of San Francisco. Wine power represents about 1.5 percent of the state's total energy.

    Sources: ggweather.com, mountwashington.org, energy.ca.gov, USAToday.com

Around 10:15 a.m., a large tree branch broke loose across from the Lodi Public Library, 201 W. Locust St., and landed on a Toyota pick-up truck.

Owner Mike Sudderth walked out of the library to find that the roof was dented and a side mirror was mostly demolished. He'd almost parked one space back when arriving at the library, and he wondered what would have happened if an elderly woman had instead parked in his spot.

"That's a lot of weight," he said of the large tree limb. "It could have killed somebody if they'd been walking by."

Tree branches, large and small, littered the city, but they were all small compared to the giant tree that fell at Lodi Lake.

Countless visitors who travel around trees in the middle of the road to the nature area will no longer see one of them - it fell across the northbound part of the road. By 7 a.m., city workers had assessed the damage and checked the nature area.

On North Sacramento Street, a tree limb broke loose, just missed a telephone line and came to rest in a small pond in Dennis Norton's front yard.

Next door, at Llantera Paz Tire Shop, a metal roof flapped in the wind, and Francisco Cuen was soon put to work, using an electric drill to keep his uncle's roof from flying away.

And at University of the Pacific in Stockton, wind knocked out an entire section of the stained glass in Burns Tower. The frame landed in a tree, glass shards scattered and the building was evacuated.


Francisco Cuen helps to fix his uncle's tin roof, which was damaged by high winds Thursday in Lodi. (Brian Feulner/News-Sentinel)

The wind is expected to die down by today, according to a spokesman with private forecasting firm AccuWeather, with winds from the west at 6 to 12 mph today, and 7 to 14 mph through the rest of the Memorial Day weekend. Temperatures should be around 70 today, and in the low 70s this weekend.

In the meantime, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District warned residents to avoid lengthy exposure to blowing dust. It especially affects those with breathing problems, and can raise the risk of heart attacks for those with heart troubles, spokesman Anthony Presto said.

Winds whipped waves in the Delta, where no boating incidents were reported, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which issued a wind and wave advisory. The warning, which extends through this afternoon, affected Point Reyes to Pigeon Point.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 6:29 am on Fri, May 23, 2008.

    Posts:

    Cut back on watering and more and more trees will topple!

     

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