Rain, wind put out power in Tahoe; more on the way | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Rain, wind put out power in Tahoe; more on the way

High winds and dozens of fallen trees knocked power out all over the South Shore Monday and left thousands of people in the dark for several hours.

A powerful storm blew through the Lake Tahoe area, dropping up to a foot of snow above 7,000 feet, before the leaving the area early this morning.

“The end is kind of near for now,” a National Weather Service spokesman said. But he warned that another storm will move into the area today and called for a chance of snow above 5,500 feet every day through Friday.

Along with the snow and heavy rain, winds gusting up to 60 mph wreaked havoc on power lines in Meyers and in South Lake Tahoe.

More than 5,000 customers were without power for more than two hours as trees brought down power lines in several places. Power began going out shortly before 10 a.m., and while most people had power restored by noon some people were without power well into the evening.

“We are bringing crews in from Reno and we will be working through the night to restore power to those people,” Karl Walquist, a spokesman for Sierra Pacific Power, said.

Power was lost in the Al Tahoe neighborhood when a 100-foot pine tree split nearly in half and pulled down several lines at the corner of Berkley and Los Angeles Ave. The tree fell with such force that it snapped a telephone pole in half, the top of which was left suspended 20 feet above the street.

The downed lines knocked out power at the South Lake Tahoe Police station for a short time and at South Tahoe Middle School, which was still able to remain open. Power was also out at Meyers Elementary for several hours but no students were sent home.

“I thought the world was coming to an end,” said Father John Grace who owned the tree that crashed through his fence and fell across Berkley Ave. “I heard a terrible noise, like thunder, and I couldn’t believe what had happened. I am so lucky.”

Across Los Angeles Ave. Mark and Lu Levque also felt lucky.

“I didn’t realize anything had happened,” said Mark Levque, who unknowingly drove beneath the dangling telephone pole shortly after it broke. “I feel lucky I dodged the power lines.”

More than 16,000 customers on the North Shore were also left without power when a tree downed power lines along an inaccessible stretch of Highway 267. Tahoe City, Truckee, and most of the West Shore were in the dark for much of the day and Walquist said they would not be able to restore power until early Tuesday.

Two trees also fell on Lodi Drive and a tree completely destroyed a vacant trailer at a trailer park on Pioneer Trail. A huge tree crashed through the roof of a house on Bertha Ave. and five trees fell within a few seconds at a house on Piute St.

“The wind built up from nothing in seconds to gale strength and suddenly trees were falling all around us,” Seth Hall said.

Another huge tree cracked and had to be felled on Emerald Bay Road, forcing police to close Highway 89 for two hours Monday afternoon. Montreal Rd. was also closed for the majority of the day after a telephone pole fell stringing a live wire across the street.

Despite poor road conditions Monday only one traffic accident was reported. A head-on collision blocked traffic on Sierra-at-Tahoe Rd. for a short time, but no one was seriously injured.

Chains were required across Echo Summit throughout the day and Highway 89 at Emerald Bay remained closed for avalanche control.

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