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MailTribune.com
  • Storm knocks out power to nearly 700

    Winds topple branches and trees, which hit power lines
  • A storm bringing strong winds and scattered lightning strikes tore across Medford Sunday evening, knocking out power to nearly 700 people.
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  • A storm bringing strong winds and scattered lightning strikes tore across Medford Sunday evening, knocking out power to nearly 700 people.
    Power was reported out near the intersection of Stewart Avenue and Riverside Avenue at 7:54 p.m., according to Jan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Pacific Power.
    Mitchell said there were several scattered outages reported, the largest of which effected at least 680 customers, and that the exact causes had yet to be determined Sunday evening.
    "We were hearing that there was a lot of lightning in the area," said Mitchell.
    The heavy winds brought multiple trees and lots of branches to the ground, hitting power lines at several spots in Medford, according to Medford Fire Battalion Chief Wayne Painter.
    Painter said he didn't think most of the trees falling were related to lightning, only to strong winds.
    Branches falling onto power lines caused a small grass fire and a tree fire on Coker Butte Road in Medford, but Painter said both were promptly extinguished by crews. "We had a crew on them really quickly," said Painter, adding that firefighters responded to multiple reports of power lines down Sunday evening.
    "That wind event created a lot of issues," said Painter. "It was blowing really hard."
    By 8:30 p.m., Painter said he thought the worst of the storm was over. "The storm blew over by now," he said.
    Heavy winds were reported by weather spotters for the National Weather Service's Medford office, but little to no lightning struck the Medford area, according to meteorologist Brett Lutz.
    Lutz said that a lightning cell heading for the Siskiyou Pass from California lost strength as it came over Mount Ashland.
    "As those storms came over the crest of the Siskiyous, they collapsed," said Lutz, who also heard about several tree branches coming down in Medford.
    "There was a little bit of lightning, but it fizzled," said Lutz, adding that another lightning storm hitting Klamath Falls was much worse, bringing rain and strong winds.
    Weather spotters reported winds of 40 mph in Ruch and 35 mph in Talent, both around 7:30 p.m.
    Lutz said winds at the Rogue Valley International Airport reached into the low 30s, prompting airport officials to release a temporary airport weather warning while they worked to divert planes around the storm.
    A red flag fire warning issued early Sunday afternoon because of the storm remained in effect until 11 p.m. Sunday.
    Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.
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