High winds cause trouble across Rogue Valley

Strong winds toppled trees and ripped off roofing around the Rogue Valley Tuesday, and more blustery weather was expected today.

A National Weather Service wind advisory planned to go into effect at 1 p.m. today predicted south to southeast winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 35 mph across Jackson County. The advisory continues until 4 a.m. Thursday, when forecasters were expecting winds to die down again.

On Tuesday, sustained winds reached 30 mph in Ashland, 40 mph in Medford and more than 50 mph at a weather station on Squaw Peak in southwestern Jackson County, the National Weather Service reported.

The top gust in Ashland hit 49 mph at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, the weather service said. Medford's top gust — 53 mph — blew through at 10:12 a.m. The strongest gust recorded in the county was 75 mph on Squaw Peak at 8:40 a.m.

The wind peeled sheets of corrugated metal from the roof of Ashland Lumber, forcing the closure of Oak Street for much of the day. Manager Joe Sayre said he arrived at the business at 384 Oak St. around 7 a.m. Tuesday and found about a third of one side of the roof — 32 pieces of metal in all — missing.

He said the damage likely happened between 5 and 6 a.m. Ashland Lumber and Oak Street between the railroad tracks and Clear Creek Drive were closed until nearly 2 p.m., as workers had to wait for winds to diminish so they could safely collect the fallen metal and secure some pieces that were still flapping from the rooftop, Sayre said.

"We've got a big blue tarp up now," Sayre said of efforts to protect finished lumber inside the shed. "It looks like after a hurricane in the Caribbean."

Between 5:45 and 6:30 a.m., the Ashland Fire Department responded to two reports of power lines down, fire officials said.

In the Phoenix area, a line from the Campbell substation came down around 6:40 a.m., knocking out electricity to 317 customers for three and a half hours, Pacific Power spokeswoman Jan Mitchell said.

About 460 Eagle Point residents near Stevens Road spent about three hours Tuesday morning without power, and 1,170 customers in a section of east Medford served by the Brookhurst substation, including homes along Groveland and Sunrise avenues, Lawnridge Street, and Spring Hills Drive, were without power from 11:25 a.m. until nearly 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Other scattered outages each only affected a few people, the utility company reported.

Talent saw scattered roof damage.

"Oh boy, do we have a ton of it!" said Jamie Burnett, assistant manager at the Anjou Club apartment complex.

"We were dodging flying shingles on our way to the school bus stop this morning," she said.

All the buildings in the complex sustained some minor damage, she said and final repairs could take days.

One tree toppled in the complex, but didn't fall on anything.

Laurel Dryland, a resident of Scenic Drive in Ashland, was awakened by wind buffeting some toys and other items left on the deck at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. As she and her husband collected those things, they noticed trees behind the house swaying wildly in the wind.

Dryland said she had just gone back to bed when she heard "an incredible thud." Confident that everything in the yard was secured, she went back to sleep. When she got up later, a slender Ponderosa pine had crashed down within inches of the master bathroom window.

"I feel so lucky," she said.

Weather service forecasters were predicting that the next front will bring more wind and a continued chance of rain to Southern Oregon, as well as heavy precipitation in Northern California. Mount Shasta, which has received more than 5 feet of snow since Sunday, could get an additional 20 to 40 inches by midday Thursday, the weather service reported.

The wind advisory said the strongest winds today and tonight will be in the Ashland area and at elevations higher than 1,500 feet. The high winds could make driving dangerous on Interstate 5, especially for trucks, SUVs and other high-profile vehicles.

A storm moving in on Thursday likely will come onshore in the San Francisco Bay Area, but wind and precipitation will move up the West Coast, said meteorologist Marc Spilde. Most precipitation in Southern Oregon will fall as snow east of the Cascades.

A showery weather pattern will develop on Friday, then move to the east. Over the weekend conditions will be less unsettled with a chance of some sun breaking through and no rain expected, Spilde said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

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