Wind blows by Carson City; other areas expecting more | NevadaAppeal.com
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Wind blows by Carson City; other areas expecting more

Teri Vance & The Associated Press
tvance@nevadaappeal.com
Keith Curo, of Pasadena, stops to look over the damage caused by a fallen tree at a Shell gas station on the corner of North San Gabriel Avenue and East Colorado Boulevard, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in Pasadena, Calif. Some of the worst winds in years blasted through California overnight, sweeping through canyons, gusting up to 97 mph, and toppling trees and trucks while knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Bret Hartman)
AP | FR139655 AP

An unusual weather pattern has shielded Carson City from much of the wind blowing through nearby areas, said Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“It’s kind of the opposite of a normal wind event here,” he said Thursday. “The high end is really hitting the west shore of Lake Tahoe, where it’s usually on the east side of the Sierra.”

Winds that usually come from the south and west have originated, instead, in the north and east.

While no injuries have been reported from the high winds, it has wreaked havoc in Lake Tahoe, McGuire said.

“We’ve received reports of numerous trees that have come down in the South Lake Tahoe area,” he said. “Trees have fallen into houses, and power lines have come down.”

A dock at Camp Richardson was also damaged, he said.

Dust storms have also decreased visibility in Churchill, Pershing and Mineral counties.

In Carson City, today is expected to be sunny and cold, with a high near 37 and an east wind of around 5 mph, picking up to 10 mph this evening.

Saturday should be sunny and chilly, with a high near 35 and winds between 5 and 15 mph. Saturday’s forecast low is 7 degrees.

Sunday should be warmer, with a high near 40 and a low around 16.

Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-40s early next week.

In other parts of the West, more of the destructive winds seen earlier this week are in store.

The National Weather Service called Southern California’s winds Wednesday night a once-in-a-decade event, and winds were expected to pick up again Thursday night.

In the mountains, winds were expected to gust up to 65 mph into this morning and 50 mph in the valleys.

High-wind warnings and advisories were also issued for Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. The blustery weather is expected to eventually hit Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana.

The storms were the result of a dramatic difference in pressure between a strong high-pressure system and a cold low-pressure system, meteorologists said. This funnels strong winds down mountain canyons and slopes.

The winds reached 123 mph at a ski resort northwest of Denver, and they topped 102 mph in Utah.

California, however, was the hardest hit, with more than 200,000 utility customers without power. The gusts were blamed for toppling semitrailers and causing trees to fall on homes, apartment complexes and cars.

In some neighborhoods, concrete light poles cracked in half. Darkened traffic signals and fallen palm fronds and branches snarled traffic. At a Shell station, a canopy roof collapsed into a heap of twisted metal.

“It was a terrifying ride for me, coming here in pitch dark … and watching motorists take no notice of lights being out,” said Bob Spencer, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

The last time Southern California was battered by such intense winds was in January 2007, when similarly high gusts toppled trees and made a mess.

Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory lives in Sierra Madre and, like hundreds of thousands of people across the region, lost power at his home. A heavy tree limb blocked his driveway Thursday.

He estimated winds peaked between 80 to 90 mph in his neighborhood overnight.

“It was like being in a hurricane. I thought I was going to blow away,” he said. In heavily damaged Pasadena, schools and libraries closed and a local emergency, the first since 2004, was declared. Officials said 40 people were evacuated from an apartment building after a tree smashed part of the roof.

Pasadena is known for its historic homes and wide, oak-lined streets that are frequently depicted in films.

Many residents on Thursday blamed the city for protecting its old trees from over-trimming to such an extent that they have now become a public safety hazard.

Vince Mehrabian, the general manager at A&B Motor Cars in Pasadena, estimated eight Lexus, Cadillac and other luxury cars had been destroyed by fallen limbs. He said he’d been asking the city for four years to trim the trees more.

On a street around the corner, almost every tree was either cracked in half or missing limbs.

Elsewhere, Daphne Bell, a 30-year Pasadena resident, said she was kept awake by howling wind.

“This is the worst, the absolute worst. There were times it sounded like a freight train was roaring down my driveway,” she said

Similar stories of downed trees and power lines echoed across the West, where winds in some areas ripped storefront awnings, filled gutters with debris and forced school closures.

High winds ripped through Utah, overturning several semi-trucks on or near Interstate 15, and 54,000 customers were without power along the state’s 120-mile Wasatch Front as high winds took down power lines.

Police asked schools to close in Centerville, where a 102-mph gust was reported. Mail delivery and trash pickup were canceled.

In Steamboat Springs, Colo., the roof of a four-story condominium complex was blown off and about 100 trees were knocked over, some landing on homes. A ski area shut down its lifts after a gust of 123 mph.

Even some weather experts were surprised by the wind’s force.

“It’s one of the strongest events that I can remember,” said Brian Edwards, a meteorologist with Accuweather. “It’s rather rare.”