Heavy winds cause damage, outages across Bay Area

Heavy winds caused widespread power outages and road and transit closures around the Bay Area on Tuesday. PG&E is working to restore service and also taking on the big task of clearing power poles that were knocked down.

"The tree came down with the wires with the flames and the whole nine yards," said Arshia Ali.

Ali, director of Scholar's Academy on San Jose's Silver Creek Road, says preschoolers were in the building Tuesday when the gusty winds took down a tree, which toppled eight power poles and started a small fire.

"We do fire drills and safety drills all the time so we just briefed the kids -- stay with the teachers and listen or follow instructions," she said.

On Wednesday, the power was still out. She posted signs at the school letting parents know it's closed. Many neighbors spent the night in the cold, like Patricia Martinez.

"It's a big house and it gets very cold so I started putting candles on," Martinez said. "I didn't know what else to do cause I don't have another type of heater to turn on."

Her power came back on early Wednesday morning. She made coffee for one of the workers, who spent the night directing traffic in the blistering cold.

"I saw one of the workers, PG&E workers, standing out there freezing," she said. "So I opened my window and asked her, 'do you want a cup of coffee?' And she said, 'yes!"

PHOTOS: Heavy winds cause damage around Bay Area

PG&E crews have been working nonstop. The biggest problem they're seeing -- toppled trees falling on power lines.

Darrel Guidry, who has already lost power twice since Tuesday, is considering cancelling his New Year's Eve plans.

"Well you know, we were going to have a party," he said. "And then we said oh the party's off."

His power's back on now, and so is the party. But he's not confident he'll ring in 2015 with electricity.

"We're hoping that the power stays on today, but we can just hope," Guidry said.

In Millbrae, a busy stretch of road was closed for a short time on Wednesday morning. Burlingame police worked to clear El Camino Real after a downed tree fell and blocked the road. It snarled traffic near San Mateo Avenue.

And in Dublin, strong winds toppled a tree that fell and blocked Tamarack Drive. Crews quickly arrived and worked to saw it apart and clear the road.

VIDEO: Elderly woman credits God for saving her from fallen tree

A huge tree fell onto Luana Larson's home on Vintage Street in Napa. She credits "divine intervention" for saving her life.

"The Lord looked after me," Larson said. "I know that's what happened. The Lord moved me."

VIDEO: High winds knock down trees at golf course in Alameda

The wind created a lot of new hazards in the form of downed trees at Chuck Corica Golf Complex in Alameda. In fact, no part of the 45-hole golf complex, that is mostly landfill, was spared from the damage brought by the wind.

"Just be glad you weren't out here yesterday because it's very dangerous," said Larry Stewart. "These trees have very shallow roots. But they're tall and thin. So they'll go down with not even as severe wind as that."

The heavy winds that caused outages and closures are expected to weaken just in time for San Francisco's New Year's Eve fireworks show.

Pyro Spectaculars' fireworks show producer Jeff Thomas said Wednesday morning that he's confident the show will go on despite the strong winds that inundated the region Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service, winds are forecast to weaken, with winds around 5 to 7 mph after midnight.

Clear skies are expected, with the temperature in San Francisco reaching as low as 39 degrees. Patchy frost is forecast for after 10 p.m., according to the weather service.

Thomas, who has been producing pyrotechnic shows for more than four decades, said that fog is not expected to obscure the fireworks being launched at midnight from a barge in the Bay.

New Year's Eve revelers heading to the waterfront to watch the fireworks or those heading out for a night on the town are advised to wear extra layers since temperatures are expected to be in the 30s tonight around the Bay Area.

The temperature Wednesday night is forecast to reach as low as 35 degrees in Oakland and 33 degrees in San Jose, according to the weather service.

Thomas said if winds unexpectedly strengthen tonight, the U.S. Coast Guard and the barge operator will determine whether or not conditions are safe enough to allow the show to go on.

Bay Area power outages

PG&E is reporting that 98 percent of Bay Area customers experiencing power outages due to Tuesday's windstorm have had their service restored.

There were, however, roughly 3,330 Bay Area customers still affected as of 2 p.m. today, including 80 customers in San Francisco and 1,100 more on the Peninsula, PG&E officials said.

There are 160 customers without power in the North Bay, 1,170 customers without power in the East Bay, and 820 customers without power in the South Bay, according to PG&E.

PG&E has had about 1,500 personnel responding throughout its system to disruptions caused by the storm, according to the utility.

PG&E reminds customers to prepare for power outages. Have flashlights and fresh batteries ready and know where to go for the latest outage information in your neighborhood. They also urge customers to stay safe during a storm. Stay away from downed power lines and do not touch them. Be aware that some trees may be weak due to the drought and more vulnerable to falling in wet and windy weather. If you see damaged power lines and electric equipment, call 911, and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002

Click here to check out PG&E's map showing outages across the Bay Area.

For full coverage on the windy weather that hit the region, click here.

And click here to download the ABC7 Weather app.ws contributed to this report.

ABC7 News reporter Elissa Harrington, Nick Smith, Wayne Freedman, and Bay City News contributed to this report.
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