High winds, gusting up to 100 mph over some peaks in the Sierra on Tuesday, will taper off Wednesday and in their wake, overnight temperatures will plummet.
The Sacramento area experienced wind gusts between 40 mph and 50 mph Tuesday that downed trees and caused power outages. Gusts of 40 mph were recorded at Sacramento International Airport, and 38 mph at Executive Airport.
Some of the strongest winds were in the foothills and the Delta, said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Auburn Airport reported gusts of 44 mph, and Placerville, 48 mph. Most of the wind damage was reported in the foothill areas. The Record-Searchlight in Redding reported that two people were killed by falling trees in Paradise, in Butte County.
In the Sacramento area, Sacramento Municipal Utility District crews were kept busy responding to wind-related power outages. Electricity was restored about 3 p.m. to Sacramento’s downtown area after an outage that affected about 5,600 customers.
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SMUD spokesman Chris Capra said the outage occurred at 2:17 p.m. when a line opened at a bulk substation in the downtown area. Troubleshooters checked lines and found no damage, leading them to believe the outage was caused by lines slapping together in the wind or a tree branch hitting a line.
Capra said a similar situation caused an outage at 1:26 p.m. in the Folsom and Orangevale areas that affected about 5,000 customers. Power in that area was reported fully restored at 2:56 p.m.
Winds were tapering off Tuesday night, but Shoemaker said they might pick up again this morning, with gusts around 40 mph. By this evening , winds are expected to die down, and temperatures will drop due to dry air. A freeze watch is in effect from Wednesday night through Friday morning. Overnight lows between 25 and 30 degrees are forecast, about 10 degrees below normal for this time of year, Shoemaker said.
Because of the dry air, temperatures fall quickly at night but also warm up faster during the day. With sunny skies, daytime temperatures will be around 51 degrees, about normal for this time of year, Shoemaker said.
The forecast for overnight temperatures dropping into the low 30s prompted the opening of warming centers Tuesday night in Sacramento and Elk Grove.
The city and county of Sacramento announced that Southside Park Pool House, 2107 Sixth St., will be open from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Friday for people seeking to get out of the cold.
Center operations will be coordinated by the county Office of Emergency Services. The criteria for opening a warming center, according to the County/City Severe Weather Guide, are extreme cold/freeze warnings for three days accompanied by night temperatures of 32 degrees or lower. If temperatures begin to rise, the center will close.
The Southside Park Pool House has seating capacity for about 50 people. Snacks and chairs will be provided, but no beds will be available.
If the center reaches capacity, backup facilities will be arranged. Staffing will be provided by the Office of Emergency Services, the Department of Human Assistance, City Parks and Recreation, and Medical Reserve Corps and Hands On volunteers. The Sacramento Police Department will provide security.
City Animal Services will supply 10 kennels for larger dogs, and small carriers for smaller animals. An area will be available for pets and animals belonging to people using the warming center.
The Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance also will make motel vouchers and bus passes available for homeless families and individuals needing to get out of the cold. They will be distributed through county social workers and the Police Department’s Impact Team.
The city of Elk Grove and Cosumnes Community Services District also announced a warming center at the Barbara Morse Wackford Community and Aquatic Complex, 9014 Bruceville Road opened Tuesday night.
The need to keep the Elk Grove center open was to be reassessed at 2 a.m. Officials said it might close if there were no occupants or no indication someone might be on the way. The facility can also accommodate pets. It will be staffed by the Community Services District, Community Emergency Response Team and Volunteers in Policing.
Warmer nights are expected beginning Saturday. Westerly winds will bring more moisture, and overnight lows will move into the upper 30s and low 40s, Shoemaker said. By Monday, highs around 60 are forecast for the Sacramento area.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.
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