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No letup in winds: Weather Service

Tree limbs, power lines come down as strong winds buffet area
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Strong winds made for a dangerous day Wednesday in Auburn, with tree limbs weighted by spring growth snapping and power lines coming down. The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office reported gusts as strong as 35 mph in the Auburn area with sustained wind speeds during the afternoon of 25 to 30 mph. Meteorologist Jared Leighton of the weather bureau said that gusts from the northwest were expected to increase overnight to 40 mph and keep up through tonight. Gusts up to 30 mph are forecast for early Friday, with strong winds tapering off toward the end of the day. In Auburn, city streets looked more like they would on an autumn day – except for green color of the fallen foliage. Broken branches also littered some roadsides and yards. One of the largest downed limbs fell near Placer High School at about 2 p.m. – just before dozens of students walked by after school was let out a half-hour later. The20-foot-long limb broke off from a tree adjacent to the sidewalk and fell directly on the walkway. A city of Auburn works crew took the call and cut up the tree for removal. At about the same time, a wind gust broke off a limb on a Pine Street tree. The limb lodged against another about 15 feet in the air and dangerously close to power lines. Engineering division manager Bernie Schroeder said the initial plan was to close off the sidewalk and tied the broken limb to keep it from falling farther. The older neighborhoods of the Auburn area have been particularly susceptible to high winds because of the higher count of older growth trees, Schroeder said. The new round of strong winds comes less than a week after two limbs – one in Penryn and one at Placer High School – crashed onto the tops of cars. In both instances, the drivers narrowly missed being injured or killed. High winds also follow less than five months after a January 4 windstorm that swept through Auburn and Northern California, causing heavy damage from tree limbs falling onto buildings and power lines. Downed power lines were reported Wednesday at Millertown and Wise roads in Ophir. A downed tree report was also called in to emergency workers from the Rattlesnake Road area. Calfire was handling wind-driven fires on Wednesday, the largest being a 15-acre wildland blaze in the Pleasant Valley area of Nevada County. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.