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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Strong winds topple towering ponderosa pine across 17th Avenue

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 30, 2018

Wind gusts topping 50 mph leveled a massive ponderosa pine tree across 17th Avenue near Regal Street on Monday night.

The tree blocked traffic on the busy South Hill cut-across linking Ray and Perry streets.

Mike Reitemeier, who lives in a home on the corner, said he and his wife heard a loud crack followed by an even louder boom at about 9:30 p.m..

“We looked out the window and said, ‘Well, that’s weird,’” the homeowner said Tuesday morning as he stood near the gaping hole where a tree used to stand. “That’s not normal.”

Reitemeir thinks heavy wind gusts were to blame. The Spokane International Airport recorded a gust of 53 mph at 9 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service reported. Wind gusts were in the 40 mph range until just after midnight, weather service meteorologist Bryce Williams said.

Luckily, the mature ponderosa pine fell diagonally, barely missing the front porch of a house across the street, the top of its canopy coming to rest in a neighbor’s driveway. No vehicles were hit and nobody was injured. It did, however, take out a phone line on its way to the ground.

City crews, including a large bulldozer and dump truck, were out at about 7:30 a.m. to assess the damage. With detours in place, traffic was mostly unaffected.

A few houses down and across the street, another property was the victim of wind-related chaos. A cluster of three trees fell, hitting an out building. Damage appeared minimal.

At the Coeur d’Alene Airport, a gust of 45 mph was recorded at midnight. Schweitzer Mountain Resort recorded 50 mph sustained winds with a gusts topping 92 mph at 2 a.m.

Avista reported scattered power outages Tuesday morning. As of 6:30 a.m. nearly 400 customers were without power, mostly near Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint.

Northern Light Electric Cooperative reported 274 customers without power as of 7 a.m.

Inland Power and Light was reporting no outages as of 6:30 a.m.

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