Winds fell trees, cause power blackouts |

Winds fell trees, cause power blackouts

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunA large gust of wind drops a tree on Highway 89 south near Rubicon Bay on Tuesday. High winds in the Truckee-Tahoe area were responsible for many downed trees and power outages.

Powerful winds rose up in front of a winter storm Tuesday, sending numerous trees crashing into power lines around the Tahoe Basin.

Many West Shore residents lost power in the storm, said Sierra Pacific Power spokesman Karl Walquist. As of Tuesday afternoon, all of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows had also lost electricity service.

Crews were responding to power outage after power outage from 9 a.m. into the late afternoon, said Walquist.

“They cleared the tree limbs off the lines, and then a tree fell into the lines,” he said of the West Shore outage.

Walquist did not know the number of Sierra Pacific customers who lost power in the wind.

Some outages were only momentary.

“In some instances the lines just slap against each other and create an outage,” said Walquist.

While Tahoe’s west shore bore the brunt of the wind, reports of felled trees also came in from Squaw Valley and Tahoe City.

“The West Shore is getting battered pretty good,” said Dave Ruben, a battalion chief with the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.

One El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy narrowly avoided being injured by a falling tree near D.L. Bliss State Park.

The deputy drove up to a house that had a sounding alarm from a tree limb that fell on the home.

“While he was standing there he heard a large bang and a pop behind him,” said El Dorado Sgt. Bruce Rosa. “He knew enough to start running.”

The tree clipped him and drove him into the ground, but he was uninjured, said Rosa.

The National Weather Service clocked winds of 116 mph at Ward Peak in Alpine Meadows and 122 mph gusts over Slide Mountain Tuesday.

The National Weather Service had issued a high wind warning for Truckee and Tahoe.

As of 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, no trees had damaged homes in the area, said Ruben.

At the U.S. Coast Guard station in Tahoe City, Officer Michael Faivre said the lake waters were dangerously rough.

“I’m seeing constant five-foot rollers coming into the station here,” said Faivre.

The Coast Guard had not received any calls for rescues by Tuesday afternoon.

But the winds were some of the stiffest Faivre has seen in Tahoe.

“This is up there with quite a few of the [storms] I’ve seen,” he said.

Winds were expected to die down on Tuesday evening, as a strong Pacific storm and associated cold front moved into the area. The high wind warning from the National Weather Service was set to expire at 10 p.m.

The winter storm was forecast to drop up to 8 inches of snow in Truckee and Tahoe and up to 16 inches at the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

Truckee officials reported no problems with the high winds except for alarm activations and brief outages.

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