Flash: High Winds Topple Trees, Power Lines, Causing Blackouts and Accidents

By Bay City News
Thursday November 21, 2013 - 10:21:00 PM

High winds are bringing down trees and power lines throughout the Bay Area tonight, blocking roads and causing accidents and several major blackouts.

At 10:45 p.m., PG&E reported 35 outage locations in Berkeley affecting 7559 customers. 

A wind advisory was issued this afternoon by the National Weather Service for areas including the hills, valleys and coastal areas in the North Bay and the hills and valleys of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and coastal San Mateo County, weather service forecaster Roger Gass said. 

The advisory is expected to be in effect until at least Friday morning with winds of between 20 and 35 mph are expected in some areas, and gusts of up to 45 mph possible in the valleys. 

In elevations higher than 900 feet, Gass said, gusts could be between 45 and 69 mph. 

Large swaths of the North Bay are without power tonight, including 7,000 in the Monte Rio area, 6,200 in the Santa Rosa area, 5,600 around the city of Sonoma, 1,700 near Bodega Bay and nearly 1,600 around Glen Ellen, according to PG&E's website. 

Alameda and Contra Costa counties are experiencing major outages as well, including more than 18,000 in Oakland, more than 1,200 in downtown Danville, more than 4,770 in San Leandro, nearly 1,600 in Castro Valley and 1,400 in Hayward, according to PG&E. 

The California Highway Patrol has issued wind advisories for the San Mateo, Benicia and Carquinez bridges and is advising motorists to use caution. 

One tree blocked all northbound lanes of northbound Interstate Highway 238 on the edge of San Leandro after falling on a car at 6:24 p.m., according to the CHP. 

Several cars struck the downed tree before the highway was closed by the CHP. It was entirely closed for about an hour before one lane was opened to traffic. 

The CHP is also advising motorists to watch out for trees on several Oakland highways, including on Interstate Highway 580 at Fruitvale Avenue as well as near the Central Reservoir and at state Highway 24 near 51st Street. 

Another tree came down in the Rockridge area of Oakland in the 5700 block of Keith Avenue near the Broadway exit to Highway 24 and brought power lines down with it, Oakland police said. 

Residents in the area were asked to shelter indoors, Lt. Chris Bolton said tonight. 

A tree also fell on a car driving on U.S. Highway 101 in Petaluma earlier, blocking traffic and injuring an occupant of the car, the CHP said. 

The red Honda was driving north on the highway approaching the East Washington Street offramp when the tree fell on the car, the CHP said. 

The accident blocked one lane of the highway and responders called for a chainsaw to get the tree off the Honda, the CHP said. 

Initial reports said that one occupant of the car may have suffered a back injury in the crash and an ambulance was called to the scene, the CHP said. 

The collision scene also blocked the Lakeville Highway onramp to Highway 101, the CHP said. 

Even BART has reported 10-minute delays along its aboveground tracks because of the continued strong winds.