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Wind prompts air quality warning
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Teresa Laney stands near the sidewalk of her home in the 600 block of Birchwood Street in Manteca after the familys prize eucalyptus tree was downed by the wind falling completely across the roadway blocking traffic. She said her son Frank was late in coming home and would have parked his truck at the curb where it would have been crushed if the tree had fallen just 10 minutes later. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Gusty winds on Monday may have toppled decades-old stalwart trees, but not the spirit of 80 intrepid women golfers playing their annual tournament at the Manteca Golf Course.

Strong northerly winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 40 miles per hour throughout the day transformed the skies around the South San Joaquin area into an eerie tule fog-like atmosphere. Along West Yosemite Avenue from the Interstate 5 interchange to McKinley Avenue, big rigs and cars dodged wind-driven giant tumbleweeds that flew like feathers over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, up above the high fences at the Delta A/C Supply company and onto the path of motorists at Yosemite before they continued their free-wheeling bumpy flight into the dry and dusty open fields and on to the dimly visible 120 Bypass.

The day’s gusty winds prompted the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to issue a health caution warning to residents in the Valley Air Basin through the evening. The district warned that blowing dust can result in unhealthy concentrations of particulate matter 10 microns and smaller which, in turn, can cause serious health problems, aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks and bronchitis, and increase risk of respiratory infections.

The district also advised people suffering from heart or lung disease to follow their doctors’ advice on how to deal with episodes of particulate exposure.

At Birchwood Street off of Northgate Drive in Manteca, a  40-foot  eucalyptus tree in a front yard proved no match to the strong wind gusts that whipped the residential neighborhood around 11:30 a.m. The 35-year-old tree in the corner of the home’s front lawn fell to the side of the street where the residents’ 20-year-old son usually parks his car but not on this day. No injuries were reported. However, the tree’s extensive root system took out a substantial size of the lawn’s green grass.

Teresa Laney didn’t hear the tree fall but was alerted by one of her neighbors living across the street that it had fallen and was completely blocking traffic on the roadway.

Laney said the tree was her husband’s favorite because it provided almost total shade for his garage during the heat of the summer.  She said she had called him at work and said he was devastated. Her son Frank was on his way home when the roots cracked clear of their front lawn and would have parked in his usual spot – under the shade of that tree.

City parks crews were on the scene within half an hour and manned their chain saws feeding tree limbs into a mulching auger that made fast work of the branches and trunk.

In Ripon, a mature walnut tree in another residential neighborhood fell to the ground roots and all during a strong wind gust in the morning.

Manteca Golf Course golf pro Paul Lamazor said the community links did not lose any tree to the strong winds on Monday but a few branches fell off some of the trees.

“It’s pretty tough out here, unfortunately for them,” he said of the 80 members of the Pacific Women’s Golf Association who were holding their annual tournament Monday in Manteca.

The strong winds were making it tough for them to play, but it was “sweet victory for sure” to the  winners, Lamazor said.

The women golfers, who come from different golf clubs all over the valley, the Bay Area, Fresno and Sacramento and always have their annual tournament in April, were no strangers to inclement weather accompanying their annual gathering in the Family City.

“Last year, it rained but they still played,” said Lamazor.