Winds, Rain Bring Down Trees

State of Emergency Proclaimed

Wild gusts of high winds (reported up to 85 miles per hour) and torrential rains uprooted a large pine tree and hurled it onto the home of Lisa and Scott Parsons Sunday morning, Dec. 19. Neighbors in the Pine Mountain neighborhood along Cedarwood heard the loud crash.

Kern County Fire Chief Nick Dunn, as director of emergency services, proclaimed a state of emergency Monday that was echoed by Governor Schwarzenegger on Tuesday. Recent burn areas in Tehachapi and the Frazier Mountain Communities, as well as areas of Lake Isabella, McFarland, Lamont and Bakersfield, were threatened with severe flooding. But local damage is still modest.

Chuck Noble of Lebec patrolled areas affected by the Post fire, above O’Neil Canyon and Los Padres Estates. He said he saw “a couple of small slides starting but nothing that would cause any serious damage to any property.”

The pine that fell on the Parsons’ house in Pine Mountain, said to be 85 feet long, took down power and phone lines, crushed a Suburban vehicle and damaged the corner of the Parson’s home. Although the famiy was shaken, no one was injured.

The road was blocked off because of live electric lines on the ground. Gas had been turned off by Kern County Fire Department as soon as they responded.

Scott Parsons reported Monday that “Southern California Edison showed up at about 8 p.m., 12 hours after our first call!”

The family used a generator to keep the refrigerator going and built a fire.

“My daughter roasted marshmallows and we ate peanut butter and jelly,” Parsons said. Their cars were still trapped by the tree when the snow started on Monday. About two inches of snow fell by Tuesday.

In Frazier Park, National Weather Service Weather Spotter Linda Curtis measured 2.39 inches of rainfall from the beginning of the storm to Tuesday, Dec. 21. Curtis lives at 5,000 feet elevation, near the Frazier Park fire station.

In Lebec, firefighters at Station 56 said they had received two inches of rain by Friday, Dec. 17 and they expected to have four inches from the storm by the end of the weekend. That was not over-optimistic. In the 24-hour period from Tuesday, Dec. 21 to Wednesday, Dec. 22 alone, they had measured 1.72 inches.

Six months into this “precipitation year,” (July- June) Jim and Fae Lumsden’s weather station at 6,000 feet in Lebec shows there has been more precipitation in this six months of 2010-11 than in the entire year of 2003-04.

At about 13.5 inches so far this weather year, the cumulative precipitation by December 21, 2010 at the Lumsden’s station is higher than six months into the record-setting 2004-05 year.

Another storm front came through on Wednesday, bringing snow at higher elevations.

The sun, and safe driving conditions, are expected to reappear Thursday. Christmas day is expected to be sunny and breezy with only a 20 percent chance of rain and highs near 53.

Clouds will return on Sunday, but temperatures will be moderate, in the low 50s during the day, with Monday partly sunny.

–Reported by Patric Hedlund

This is part of the December 24, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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