Gusty winds take down trees and power lines, I-5 re-opens after crash

Larry Reel was driving to dinner with his wife and son when a tree fell on their car at 19th and X streets on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Their vehicle was driving at normal speed when the tree stopped them immediately. They escaped from the car unharmed.
Larry Reel was driving to dinner with his wife and son when a tree fell on their car at 19th and X streets on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Their vehicle was driving at normal speed when the tree stopped them immediately. They escaped from the car unharmed. aseng@sacbee.com

Gusting winds and sodden ground on Wednesday evening led to a series of accidents and major power outages across the Sacramento region.

Wednesday 10:11 p.m. Southbound I-5 near Woodland re-opens after big-rig crash

Caltrans reported that southbound Interstate 5 near Woodland has been re-opened after a big-rig accident was cleared.

Wednesday 9:45 p.m. SMUD continues restoring power

As of 9:45 p.m. SMUD counted 492 outages affecting 45,298 customers, down from 49,000 as of abut 9 p.m. “Please stay away from many downed power lines,” the company wrote on Twitter.

Wednesday 9:30 p.m. Winds abate, calmer weather ahead

Heavy winds that moved through the Sacramento region beginning about 5 p.m. started to abate about 9 p.m., said Johnnie Powell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

He said the Weather Service had issued a high wind advisory earlier in the day but went to a high wind warning when gusts topped 50 mph.

Sacramento International Airport recorded the highest peak wind gust in the valley at 63 mph. Sacramento Executive Airport reported gusts of 54 mph and McClellan, 56 mph.

Powell said the worst appeared to be over by 9 p.m. and calmer winds are expected Thursday.

SMUD said that would help with repair, which will likely continue through tomorrow. “With wind decreasing, troubleshooters can make safer assessments of damage and bring more customers' power back. Thx for patience,” the utility wrote on Twitter.

Wednesday 9:13 p.m. Updated numbers from SMUD, PG&E on power outages

SMUD reported that there were 474 outages affecting 49,000 customers as of 8:55 p.m. That’s down from more than 77,000 customers earlier in the evening. PG&E figures show 31,883 customers without power in the Sacramento region, mostly in Placer and Yolo counties.

Wednesday 8:12 p.m. Downed trees close Hwy 160

Caltrans tweeted that Highway 160 is closed from Highway 12 to the Antioch bridge because of downed trees and is not expected to reopen until 9 a.m. Thursday. Caltrans cautions motorists that the area is unsafe.

Wednesday 8:07 p.m. Valley winds gust to 63 mph

The National Weather Service tweeted that the strongest wind gust in the valley – 63 mph – occurred at 7:13 p.m. at Sacramento International Airport.

Wednesday 8:03 p.m. SMUD can’t say when power will be restored

Bob Burns, a Sacramento Municipal Utility District spokesman, said the number of outages –over 300 when he last looked – is unusual.

“Most of them are not that huge,” he said, “but in terms of the number of them, it is unusual.”

The challenge is that they are spread throughout the region, he said. As of 8 p.m., 10 crews were in the field along with 15 trouble shooters and more crews were en route.

Burns said he didn't know how many of the outages were caused by downed trees or power lines, but he said most appeared to be wind related.

Due to the number of outages, he said, SMUD is unable to estimate times when power will be restored to specific areas.

Wednesday 8:06 p.m Light rail reports delays

Regional Transit tweeted that all trains are running late because of power lines down throughout the system and crossing arms broken by high winds.

Wednesday 7:42 p.m. PG&E: 21,677 lose power

PG&E reported that 21,677 customers had lost power, mainly in Yolo and Placer counties, bringing the total number of customers who have lost power, including SMUD customers, to more than 99,000 in the Sacramento region.

Per PG&E, here are the outages and number of customers affected at about 7:30 p.m.: Colfax 115; Davis 5,991; Dixon 8,378; Knights Landing 1,174; Lincoln 96; Meadow Vista, 98; Rio Vista 1,806; West Sacramento 3,500; Winters 519; Woodland 9,074.

Wednesday 7:40 p.m. Trees block highways

The California Highway Patrol's traffic incident website reported trees down on roadways throughout the Sacramento region between 6 and 7 p.m. They included: a tree blocking lanes of northbound Highway 99 at the 12th Avenue offramp in Sacramento; a tree in lanes on Highway 160 at Highway 220 in south Sacramento County; tree limbs eastbound Highway 50 at the 59th Street offramp; trees blocking the onramp from eastbound 47th Avenue to northbound Highway 99; and a tree down at northbound Highway 160 at the Canterbury Road offramp.

Wednesday 7:11 p.m. 77,406 without power

The Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District reported that more than 77,000 homes were without power and it’s online outage map had crashed. “With outage map currently down, will provide over numbers here every 15 minutes. 251 outages, 77,406 customers without power.”

Wednesday 6:57 p.m. Traffic signals out

Traffic signals and lights were out across midtown Sacramento and other areas of the city, the Sacramento Fire Department said. Officials warn to drive carefully.

Wednesday 6:52 p.m. Tree falls on car

A large tree fell on top of a truck at 19th and X streets in midtown Sacramento, trapping occupants inside. The Sacramento Fire Department said occupants were able to get out uninjured. “Family of three incredibly lucky after falling tree crushes cab of truck completely at 19th and X Sts. X street still blocked, 19th St open,” the Fire Department wrote on Twitter shortly before 7 p.m. “Family was driving down X Street at 30 mph when large tree fell across cab. All three escaped with no injuries!”

Wednesday 6:05 p.m. I-5 shut near Woodland

The California Highway Patrol reported Interstate 5 was closed to traffic in both directions shortly after 6 p.m. after a semi-truck became wedged on a bridge near County Road 22 in Woodland.

The cab was dangling over the bridge, according to the CHP’s incident website. Two people trapped inside had to be extricated.

Tow truck operators were advised of high winds in the area.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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