Roads clear after winds knock down trees
The early morning wind storm did more than rattle windows as it knocked down trees and branches throughout the City, crunching cars and causing temporary road closures.
The National Weather Service said winds gusting up to 53 mph created the trouble. The biggest problem were the four toppled trees along M Street that shut the southbound lanes between Buena Vista Drive and Ironstone Drive between 8 a.m. and noon.
“We are glad no one was hurt by the falling trees,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “We mobilized all of our tree crews and our park crews to M Street to clean up those trees and open the road.”
The road was re-opened to traffic around noon.
The combination of rain-soaked ground and wind knocked over another 15 trees in the City, plus crews responded to 14 calls of tree branches that were blown down.
“Our Public Works crews haven’t seen storms like this in years but they’ve done very well,” said Dietz. “It seems as soon as they finished with one call they have two or three or four more calls stacked up.”
The soggy ground and winds are combining to topple the trees. Merced has received 5.01 inches of rain since Jan. 1. The Merced Regional Airport recording 1.14 inches of rain in the 72-hour period ending at 2:04 p.m. Friday.
And the crews may not get much rest until next week. The National Weather Service is forecasting rain Saturday night with wind gusts up to 50 mph. Additional rain is expected Sunday and Sunday with up to 2 more inches falling.
Dietz said in their spare time, Public Works crews replenished the sand piles placed in 10 locations around the City so that people can fill sandbags if needed. Sandbags are available at Fire Station 51, located at 99 E. 16th St.
Other crews are busy checking storm drains to make sure they aren’t plugged with debris to prevent the roads from floods. The rains did cause Childs Avenue to flood this morning and it was closed for several hours until the water could be pumped out.
People are reminded to drive safely in the rain and to reduce their speed when the roads are wet. Also, it’s the law that if you have your windshield wipers on, your headlights need to be turned on, too.
Tips for Driving in the Rain from the CHP
Rainy weather is blamed for hundreds of crashes, but in reality it is more a failure of the driver to adjust for wet conditions. – Slow down in wet conditions – Turn your headlights on whenever there’s bad weather – Brake earlier, and leave extra following distance – If you cannot see out of your windshield, stop and delay your trip until it is safe to drive – If you see standing water, never drive through it! You never know how deep the water is, and you may get stuck
At higher speeds, water can build up between your tire and the ground, causing you to lose traction and contact with the pavement. If you hydroplane: – Let off the accelerator, but do not brake – Don’t put extra input into the steering wheel. Once you regain traction, you can lose control if you turn your wheel while hydroplaning – Slow down until you regain traction, and keep your speed slow