A blustery storm that knocked down trees, branches and fences kept workers for the city of Fresno and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. busy from Thursday until Friday morning, officials reported.
The winds blew through the city with gusts near 50 mph at times, according to the National Weather Service. That’s an unusually strong force for Fresno, but nothing compared to speeds in Kern County, where gusts reached 66 m.p.h.
“It was a very busy night,” said Fresno spokesman Mark Standriff. “We had close to 100 emergency calls.”
Standriff said those calls involved situations when trees were blocking roads or posing another type of imminent threat to the city’s infrastructure. In addition, Workers responeded to 42 non-emergency calls, situations where crews went to areas where trees did not block roadways. He said 15 workers were out from 6 a.m. Thursday until 2:30 a.m. Friday.
“It was a very unusual weather event,” he said. In additions to trees blocking roadways and causing fence damage, tree limbs also fell on houses and carports.
The wind arrived after weeks of rain pounded the city, softening earth and making older trees especially susceptible to toppling. Standriff said with with more rain possible in the next week, residents might see more weather-related issues.
PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles said the storm caused 26,000 outages, but the vast majority were short-term as automated systems restored power. The outages were down to 100 customers by Friday morning.
Elsewhere, a wind gust was measured at 41 mph in Lemoore. Gusts of 35 mph in Merced and 33 miles an hour in Madera were measured, Hanford meteorologist Jeffrey Barlow said.
About 1,468 customers in Visalia were affected by 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.
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.
“March is breezy and the early part of April can be a potentially breezy time of year for us,” Barlow said.
The forecast for the weekend is much calmer, with lighter winds and highs reaching into the upper 70s Saturday and about 82 degrees on Sunday.