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Strong winds topple trees, knock out power in Sonoma County (w/video)

A cold, dry blast of strong wind from the north blew across Sonoma County Tuesday, toppling trees into houses and cars, downing power lines and creating a busy day for electricity and road crews. No injuries were reported, though the heavy winds were linked to at least two deaths in Butte County about 90 miles north of Sacramento.

Fallen trees blocked dozens of roads throughout Sonoma County during the day as high winds snarled the regional transportation network. Downed trees and power lines temporarily closed Interstate 80 in Vallejo during the afternoon commute while high winds shut down ferry service between San Francisco and the East Bay and a power outage disrupted BART service.

The wind caused 1½-hour delays for arriving flights at San Francisco International Airport, but flights were on time at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. Sonoma County emergency dispatchers reported at least 50 separate wind related incidents.

Sustained local wind speeds hit 30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph, knocking out power to more than 8,000 customers Tuesday in Sonoma County, according to PG&E. Most of the outages were centered in southern Sonoma County. Power was also knocked out in parts of downtown Santa Rosa, affecting businesses including shops at Santa Rosa Plaza.

Rancho Adobe firefighters responded to about 10 incidents involving trees or power lines in roadways, said Battalion Chief Steve Davidson.

“It’s hectic,” he said. “These wind events definitely create havoc.”

A toppled tree crushed a car at the Oliver’s Market parking lot in Cotati. A woman who was in the car was covered in shattered glass but was uninjured, Davidson said.

Downed trees sent power lines across San Antonio Road south of Petaluma and slammed into a power pole causing a fire on Old Redwood Highway in Penngrove. Trees blocked Skillman Lane, Cypress Drive, Round Oak Road, Old Adobe Road and Warm Springs Road.

Trees blocked both lanes of the Arata Lane/ Highway 101 off-ramp and the Dutton Avenue/ Highway 12 on-ramp Tuesday afternoon.

“Right now it’s pretty crazy,” said CHP Officer Jon Sloat, said as crews responded to the incidents. “We have trees and branches down all over the county and power lines down in places.”

In Sonoma, a eucalyptus tree came down onto Sam Mogannam’s house at the intersection of Lovall Valley Road and 7th Street East. Mogannam, who spends weekends in Sonoma, was in San Francisco at the time and heard about the damage from a neighbor.

“The roof may have more damage than it looks like,” said Mogannam, who owns a market in San Francisco. “It’s part of the beauty of living around a lot of trees. Can’t do anything about it now.”

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory Tuesday that warned of sustained winds up to 40 mph in the North Bay and gusts of up to 60 mph at the higher elevations. The warning was due to expire at noon today.

As the wind subsides, colder temperatures are predicted for Wednesday and Thursday, said Diana Henderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. A freeze watch is in effect through Thursday with morning temperatures predicted in the mid 20s to low 30s across the North Bay.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MattBrownPD.

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