Record wind gust recorded at Kirkwood likely a mistake (Video)
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) — A gust of 209 mph recorded atop a California peak over the weekend was likely not a new state wind record but a mistake resulting from a faulty sensor, meteorologists said Monday.
The wind recording was made Sunday morning by an instrument at 9,186 feet on Kirkwood Mountain south of Lake Tahoe. If accurate, it would have broken the previous wind record of 199 mph at Ward Mountain west of Lake Tahoe in 2017.
But forecasters now suspect the sensor wasn’t working properly, said Cory Mueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
“It doesn’t seem realistic after looking at the wind sensor,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It was reporting high winds when we were seeing lighter winds and higher humidity than we were actually experiencing. We believe the sensor wasn’t working correctly.”
A powerful wind storm Sunday possibly set a record and made Lake Tahoe look like the ocean, with waves several feet high.
A possible record gust of 209 mph was recorded atop Kirkwood Mountain Resort Sunday morning before its scheduled opening. It’s a potential record that wowed forecasters monitoring a cold storm that moved south through the state dumping snow, rain and hail.
The blast of wind was captured around 7:45 a.m. by an instrument at 9,186 feet on Kirkwood south of Lake Tahoe, said National Weather Service forecaster Alex Hoon.
He and his colleagues at the NWS office in Reno, Nevada watched in surprise as wind speeds across the crest of the Sierra Nevada hit 150 mph and kept rising.
“It went up and up,” Hoon said. It could take months for state climatologists to verify the record, he said.
“But the way that the winds did ramp up, it looks legitimate,” Hoon said. “It’s an exciting moment for sure.”
The previous record was a gust of 199 mph at Ward Mountain west of Lake Tahoe on Nov. 16, 2017.
The storm that caused widespread flooding last week in Washington and Oregon brought a strong cold front to California.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort closed for the day.
Waves topping 5 feet were recorded on Lake Tahoe, where air temperatures dipped below freezing.
Powerful winds downed trees and knocked out power to tens of thousands in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The same system dumped hail in parts of greater Los Angeles and snow in mountain areas north and east of the city.
Heavy rain fell as stars arrived for the Academy Awards in Hollywood on Sunday. The red carpet was protected by a tent but the position of some camera crews had them just outside the shelter, sending them scrambling to find tarps and plastic to protect their gear.
Temperatures in LA were in the 50s.
The weather at Lake Tahoe this week remains dry with mostly sunny and clear skies ahead.
The National Weather Service still has a lake wind advisory through 10 a.m. Monday morning, and is calling for a slight chance of snow showers for Thursday and Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report