High winds blasted through the central San Joaquin Valley on Thursday afternoon knocking out power to customers in both Fresno and Visalia.
Pacific Gas & Electric initially had nearly 6,000 customers without power in the Fresno area due to wind-related damage, said spokesman Denny Boyles. The first outage started around 2:45 p.m. along Bullard Avenue affecting 4,000 customers. The second large outage, north of Herndon Avenue between Brawley and Marks avenues, began at 3:20 p.m. and affected 1,170 customers.
As of 4:20 p.m. crews had reestablished power to most of the customers, Boyles said, though about 1,400 remained without power due to 116 outages in the Fresno region.
About 1,468 customers in Visalia were possibly affected by the high winds after experiencing a power outage around 4 p.m., said Southern California Edison spokesman Robert Villegas. A smaller power outage also occurred north of Richgrove in Tulare County, he said.
Visalia police Sgt. Damon Maurice said high winds caused wire to cross, causing railroad crossing arms to malfunction near Ben Maddox Way and Noble Avenue.
The Clovis Police Department reported trees in the road on Temperance Avenue, south of Barstow around 3 p.m. The city of Fresno received reports of six downed trees blocking roads in central and northwest Fresno. Those streets include Lorna Avenue, Norwich and Valentine, Northdale Avenue, and Fruit Avenue, just north of Shaw. A tree also fell near Storyland, said city spokesman Mark Standriff.
High winds toppled a dead tree that hit a car parked in a driveway in northeast Visalia. Steven Halsey said he heard a bang about 1 p.m., but thought it was his neighbor working in his garage. His neighbors knocked on his door to let him know. The tree hit a 2007 Nissan Sentra. It is driveable and he has insurance, he said.
The wind picked up by mid-afternoon and was recorded at about 41 miles an hour in Lemoore, 35 miles an hour in Merced and 33 miles an hour in Madera, Hanford meteorologist Jeffrey Barlow said. Fresno’s peak wind gust by 3 p.m. was 22 miles an hour at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport. The weather service tweeted about an hour later that wind gusts at the Fresno and Hanford airports were measured at 39 miles an hour.
A high wind warning is in effect for Kern County and the mountain passes until 11 p.m. where wind gusts could get as high as 60 miles an hour. Wind speeds were expected to decrease after sunset and drop below advisory criteria. A high pressure ridge is going to build and there will be warmer temperatures and calmer winds, Barlow said.
“March is breezy and the early part of April can be a potentially breezy time of year for us,” Barlow said.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health advisory PM-10, the fine particles of dust that easily blow and can get into the lungs. Exposure to PM-10 can “aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks and bronchitis, and increase risk of respiratory infections,” the air district said. It recommended people with breathing issues to remain indoors until the windy weather passes.
The forecast Friday and through the weekend calls for clear conditions, light winds and temperatures in the 70s.