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Wind gusts up to 40 mph slam South County
Vehicles, power lines and billboard signs look like ghostly figures Tuesday as clouds of dust from dry fields nearby kicked by wind gusts of up to 40 mph envelops the Highway 120 Bypass near the I-5 intersection. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Traffic along the western portion of  the Highway 120 Bypass looked surreal all day Tuesday as strong gusty winds kicked up tons of dust from nearby arid fields, enshrouding vehicles that looked like ghostly moving figures.

Northwest winds of up to 40 miles per hour, or more in some places, did not cause any major damages that merited five-star responses from the various emergency crews contacted – fire, police and street divisions – or resulted in significant disruption of services.

However, Lathrop-Manteca Fire District crews along with Manteca Fire personnel were called to a grass fire along eastbound Highway 120 Bypass between McKinley Avenue and Guthmiller around 1 p.m. The fire, which reportedly was caused by “a couple of wires down,” charred a nearly two-acre swath of dried grass on one side of the bypass. There were also some reports about cable, television and phone lines that were down.

Some residents in the Old Town District of Lathrop reported losing power for a short period of time after the noon hour, although it could not be verified whether the brownout was a direct result of the windstorm.

“It’s been quiet; it’s windy but it’s quiet,” was the comment from a staff member at the downtown Ripon Fire Department station.

“Not any different than normal” business, said an employee at the Manteca Ambulance District.

The industrial park near the Metro Air Park was one of the areas that bore the brunt of the angry winds on Tuesday. One of the ancient oak trees found in that area, reportedly nearly five feet in diameter at the trunk, was felled by a powerful wind-blow.

It will be sunny today but breezy, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service, which also warns of gusts that could go up to 35 miles per hour in the afternoon. The winds through should start to decrease after midnight, with gusts going down to 25 mph on Thursday. Mostly clear and cloudy skies are expected through the weekend with highs in the upper 60s and 70s through Tuesday.