Strong winds in a spring storm caused trouble throughout Fresno and Madera on Friday, knocking down trees, blowing pieces off a church mosaic and forcing at least one high school sporting event to be relocated.
The National Weather Service in Hanford issued a wind advisory for Madera County, western Fresno County and areas of Kings County. Peak gusts reached 39 mph in Madera. Several downed trees were reported there, and the Fresno Fire Department responded to a fallen tree on the 1000 block of West Dayton Avenue.
Part of a mosaic on St. Joachim’s Catholic Church in Madera was blown off during the gusts.
Rev. Gustavo Lopez said the middle one-third of a mosaic depicting St. Joachim, the patron saint of the church, fell during the sharp winds. He believes the mosaic has existed since the church was built in 1958.
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“We looked outside and saw the incredible wind,” Lopez said. “It felt like a tornado or a hurricane.”
Lopez said an official from the Catholic Diocese in Fresno was en route to check the damage.
Some people said on social media that a tornado hit Madera, but the weather service denied those claims.
Madera police said 40 calls came in to the department regarding damage and outages. “Trees were reported to have fallen into houses at the 600 block of Ashlan, 1300 block of Sonora and on Foster Avenue,” police said.
A baseball game between San Joaquin Memorial High School and Madera High School had to be relocated to Memorial due to the winds.
It also was breezy in Fresno. At 2:40 p.m., the wind was blowing at 24 mph at Fresno Yosemite International Airport, with gusts to 30 mph.
Rain began across parts of northwest Fresno around 4 p.m., including the Bullard High School area. Streets were “getting sloppy,” said one motorist.
The clouds carrying heavy rain reached downtown Fresno a few minutes later, and the resulting downpour started flooding parking lots. But the rain let up as quickly as it came and no major problems were reported.
By 7 p.m., Fresno Yosemite International Airport had measured .09 inches of rain for the day, the weather service said.