Storm fells Jacksonville trees

More wind, snow in forecast for the rest of the week
Laura Reavis describes how a 30-foot section of a tree broke off in a Sunday night windstorm and speared a hole through her roof, crashing into the living room, where she and Dennis Foyil had been sitting 15 minutes earlier.Bob Pennell

The cedar tree next to Dennis Foyil and Laura Reavis' home used to be about 30 feet taller. That was before Sunday night winds caused the top to snap off and punch a hole in their roof.

"It ended up just being a few inches from the floor," Foyil said. "It was like a big dart."

The tree section stabbed through the ceiling down through the attic to the living room on the ground floor of 360 N. Fourth St in Jacksonville. Foyil and Reavis, who had left the room just 15 minutes before, said it sounded like thunder at first, but was too loud and went on too long.

"The whole house shook," Reavis said.

Neither Foyil nor Reavis was hurt. The tree section has since been removed, the hole covered with a tarp. But the hole inside still remains, providing a clear view to the home's second level. Foyil said he thinks insurance will cover the cost of repairs.

Winds in excess of 30 mph snapped it and at least three other trees overnight in Jacksonville.

The trees damaged two buildings, but didn't injure anyone, officials said. Smaller branches and debris littered several streets Monday morning.

"We are aware of two larger trees that broke off and fell down," said Chris Arnold, public information officer for Jacksonville Fire. "We were quite fortunate there wasn't more damage than that."

Britt Festivals sent out a press advisory Monday afternoon noting that one of the large ponderosa pines on the Britt hill fell during the storm. The tree stood at the top of the hill, among the festival's picnic tables. The tree had a light wired to it and electricity to that spot was shut off. No further damage was done to the performance area.

Another tree toppling was reported at 12:21 a.m. at 553 N. Oregon St. A large tree snapped and fell down across the road and into some power lines before crashing through a garage. The home lost power temporarily, but that tree has since been cut up and removed, Arnold said.

Winds reached 31 mph for the Rogue Valley around midnight, but calmed in the early morning hours, National Weather Service officials said.

Winds aren't expected to be as strong the rest of the week, but snowfall could replace it, particularly in the hills surrounding the valley. As of Monday afternoon, weather officials said as much as 3 inches could fall at elevations above 1,500 feet Monday night, with up to an inch on the valley floor.

The weather service warned of another storm with strong winds to hit the area Wednesday and Thursday and again bring snow to the valley floor and strong accumulations on mountain passes, possibly hampering traffic at Interstate 5's Siskiyou Summit, Highway 62 around Union Creek and Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods.

Oregon Department of Transportation officials Monday reported several icy spots and packed snow along area highways, including the Siskiyou Pass and Highway 140. Motorists are urged to use caution and have chains in their vehicles during travel.

Crater Lake and the Mt. Ashland Ski Area both saw new snow overnight, a precursor of what weather officials say is on the way.

Crater Lake saw more than 2 inches of snowfall Monday. Seven inches of snow fell overnight on Mount Ashland, bringing its 24-hour total to 10 inches as of Monday morning and snow continued to fall during the day.

Before Monday's daytime flurries, snow depth at the ski area ranged from 36 inches at the lodge to 54 inches on top. That's been paying off for visits to the mountain, officials said. As of midday, they estimated about 500 visitors had hit the slopes Monday.

"Things have been going very, very well," Development Director Rick Saul said Monday. "(The) parking lot was pretty much full yesterday during the day."

Additional snow is expected to fall at the ski area daily through the end of the week, the National Weather Service reports, with as much as 11 inches predicted for Wednesday night. The area is closed today and Wednesday, then will open Thursday and remain open daily through Jan. 7 before returning to its normal five-day schedule.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email rpfeil@mailtribune.com.


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