High Winds Cause Damage Across County

Giant La Jolla tree crashed into 3 luxury cars

By Michael Gehlken, Eric S. Page, Steve Luke and R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Feb 2, 2011  |  Updated 9:43 PM PDT
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Damaging Winds Sweep County

NBC San Diego

A La Jolla eucalyptus tree that was over 70 feet tall was blown down by the wind in La Jolla on Feb. 2, 2011, crashing into three vehicles.

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High Winds Cause Damage Across County

A La Jolla resident says he saw a woman narrowly escape death.
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High Santa Ana winds left a wake of destruction across San Diego County on Wednesday, the worst of it coming in a La Jolla tree crash and East County big-rig rollover.

Before 10 a.m., a 70-plus foot eucaplyptus tree fell on Girard Avenue near its intersection with Kline Street. No one was hurt by the downed tree, which struck three vehicles -- an Audi, a Lexus and a Mercedes.

La Jolla resident Jeff Lewis said he has never seen a tree that large fall with such force.

“The wind really whipped up pretty hard, and you could hear a cracking sound," Lewis said.

Lewis said the falling tree "just missed" a real estate agent who was removing something from her vehicle trunk.

“She was surrounded by limbs," Lewis said. “Could’ve simply killed her. That’s a big tree.”

A city crew was at the scene a short time later to begin cleanup, but workers were unsure how long it would take to remove the tree.

San Diego Police Department Lieutenant James Filley said he expected the process to take most of the day and seemed -- like many -- impressed by the scene.

"Eucalyptus trees are traditionally a very short-rooted tree, and this big feller came down,” Filley said.

About an hour earlier in East County, the cold winds blew over a big rig driving east on Interstate 8, causing a two-lane blockage in traffic.

All unloaded semis were not being allowed to proceed on I-8 with closures at East Willows and Crestwood because of the high winds. Loaded semis were told to proceed with caution at their own discretion, according to a California Highway Patrol spokesperson.

Sustained winds along I-8 in East County are at 35 MPH with gusts of 57.

Wind-caused power outages also left an estimated 230 San Diego Gas & Electric customers in Ramona and Vista without service. As of noon, the power had been restored.

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