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Lathrop’s 40-year-old pine tree no match for 50 mph wind gust

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POSTED April 3, 2009 5:26 a.m.
LATHROP – A majestic pine tree standing like a sentinel in front of the Community Center in Lathrop was no match for the 50 mph wind gusts that blew over the area Thursday afternoon.

Fortunately, no one was injured when the 40-year-old evergreen came crashing the ground.

“It didn’t break anything. All the kids were inside,” said Parks Manager Nathan Houx.

He was referring to all the youngsters involved in various activities and programs held inside the building such as the after-school program, Kid Club.

The incident happened around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The tree did not fall into the direction of the building but across the driveway and into the parking lot. The only casualty was a city vehicle which was parked on the side of the Community Center near the tree when it fell down.

“It caused minor damage to one of our city vehicles parked by it but not much,” Houx said.

Damage was limited to minor scratches. No one was in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

“It’s so windy today. The tree couldn’t take all the wind, I guess,” Houx said.

He described the evergreen as a “pretty good-sized” tree with the trunk measuring about a foot-and-a-half to two feet in diameter.

He estimated the age of the tree as “probably about 30 to 40 years old” which was “probably planted when the community center was built.”

Houx confirmed that the fallen tree is not the one that is decorated and used as a community Christmas tree during the holidays. That one, which stands right next to the taller one that fell, is intact and was spared by the strong winds, he said.

“We’ll probably replace it with another tree,” he said of the one that was uprooted by the wind.

A Parks and Recreation Department staff who was inside the building working when the tree fell said she and her co-workers did not hear a loud, crashing sound.

“We had a really strong wind, a really quick wind that went through. (The tree) just tilted and tilted and then we heard a loud snap. It didn’t hit the building, it didn’t hit anybody. It didn’t hit anything, just the ground. I just heard a snap. I thought it was just a branch “that broke off,” the city employee said.

“We’re all lucky that nobody was around at that time,” said Houx.

No other wind-related incident was reported. The National Weather Service said Thursday’s northwest winds started at 10 to 15 mph during the day, eventually increasing to 20 to 35 mph later in the day which turned to 50 mph gusts later in the afternoon. The day was otherwise sunny.

The 50 mph wind gusts are expected to continue today in the morning coupled with clear skies. The winds are expected to die down to 10 mph on Saturday with sunny skies and warmer temperatures. Forecast for Sunday calls for mostly sunny skies with highs from 64 to 74 degrees, and partly cloudy skies at night.

The extended forecast for next week would be a delight to avid gardeners who are eager to work on their spring gardens. Mostly cloudy skies with a chance of rain showers are predicted for Tuesday. And on Thursday, mostly cloudy skies are expected coupled with a slight chance of light showers.
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