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MailTribune.com
  • Bolt out of the blue shatters tree

    Lightning during fierce storm downs Medford redwood, but no one is hurt; other trees fall elsewhere in valley
  • It figures that Monday's worst lightning strike, the one that turned the tallest tree on southwest Medford's Shafer Lane into a block-long pile of kindling, was witnessed by a teenager named Storm.
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  • It figures that Monday's worst lightning strike, the one that turned the tallest tree on southwest Medford's Shafer Lane into a block-long pile of kindling, was witnessed by a teenager named Storm.
    A flash of light forced Storm Faulconer to turn away from the television and peer out the window of his house to see the bolt tear through a nearby redwood tree and reduce it to a swath of woody rubble.
    "I looked out my window and saw this huge flash and then this huge explosion," says Faulconer, 18. "There's limbs scattered along the whole block."
    No one was reported hurt in the 5:09 p.m. strike, which was one of 13 cloud-to-ground hits recorded in the Medford area during a violent 45-minute storm that raged through the city Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
    Trees were reported down from Ashland to Medford and Central Point amid a fast and furious storm that also dropped .15 inches of rain at the weather service office at the Medford airport, though unconfirmed reports of rain up to a half-inch also reached the service, said meteorologist Brian Nieuwenhuis.
    The first local strike hit the Applegate area at 4:45 p.m. and the final ones touched down in Medford at 5:30 p.m., said Nieuwenhuis.
    On Shafer Lane, the only strike that mattered to Genipher Pease put a 1-foot-thick redwood branch through her dining room roof.
    Another limb pierced the garage, while others covered her son's pickup and her mother-in-law's car.
    "It's like a tornado went right through this street," Pease said.
    Despite the violence of the storm, Shafer Lane residents should get decent weather for their cleanup efforts today and the rest of the week.
    Nieuwenhuis says the rains should abate by sunup today, giving the Rogue Valley a dry spell, with highs today around 73, and climbing to 86 degrees by Friday.
    About an hour before the thunderstorms struck, two large trees inexplicably toppled in Ashland's Lithia Park, closing a portion of Winburn Way and spanning the park's Upper Duck Pond.
    Ashland Parks and Recreation Department officials said a 70-foot-tall cedar fell across Winburn Way and a large pine toppled across the duck pond at about 3:30 p.m. The two trees were close together and the cedar's root ball was resting atop that of the pine, with one tree's fall apparently triggering the other.
    Traffic on Winburn Way resumed late Monday evening.
    There was no sign of rotting or disease in either tree and no indication of what caused the first tree to fall, parks officials said.
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.
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