A long-standing pine tree in a local neighborhood cracks “like a wishbone.”
By Mary O’KEEFE
Part of a giant Stone pine tree that had towered over a neighborhood for more than 80 years crashed onto that neighborhood street, when the soil from recent rains became saturated.
“I was sitting in my chair watching the news when I heard crack, crack, crack then it sounded like a freight train,” said Rich Jessup describing the tree just outside his home when the trunk split in two, and half crashed to the ground.
“It is like a [broken] wishbone,” Jessup said.
The 3600 block of Malafia Drive is lined with large pine trees. The tree in front of Jessup’s home had thick branches that shadowed his home and street. He felt lucky the piece that fell was closest to the street and not his house.
Neighbors described the noise as “very loud” and said that when the tree fell it shook the ground “like an earthquake.”
“There was a huge dent in the ground between the lawn and the branch,” Jessup said.
Neighbors who came to look at the damage said they were surprised, and grateful, that no one was hurt.
The tree missed one neighbor’s vehicle by 18 inches. A grandmother was waiting in her vehicle for her grandchild who was at a nearby home. She had parked on the north side of Jessup’s property when the tree fell. Branches swept the front of her car but there was no damage.
The City of Glendale Dept. of Public Works was sent to assess the damage on Tuesday night. Workers tied back the larger branches that still lean over Jessup’s home. Workers returned on Wednesday and cleaned the area.
Public Works continues to assess the situation to determine if the entire tree needs to be cut down or if part of it can be saved, according to Tamara Hadjimanoukian, spokeswoman for the City of Glendale.
The rainstorm was significant, and needed.
“We broke the record for downtown [Los Angeles],” said Eric Boldt, meteorologist with the with the National Weather Service Oxnard.
On Tuesday, 1.21 inches of rain was recorded in L.A. city. That broke the record set in 1961 of 1.10 inches. At LAX, the rainfall was 1.21 inches that also broke a record set in 1966 of .73 inches.
Boldt said that along with the rain, added snowfall in the Sierras will also help with the drought Southern California is experiencing.
“Every little bit helps,” Boldt said. “[Effects from] the drought took several years and it is going to take [a while] to get [out of it].”
It is too early to tell if Southern California is looking at a wet winter. The area gets most of its precipitation in January and February.
Today, Thursday, is expected to be dryer with more sunshine, but another significant storm is expected on Dec. 12.
With every raindrop in Southern California comes a higher chance of vehicle accidents.
“Rain does not cause traffic collisions,” said Officer Edgar Figueroa, California Highway Patrol. It is drivers who do not adjust their driving habits during a rainstorm.
“When it rains, [drivers] need to change the way they drive,” Figueroa said.
On Tuesday there were 118 traffic collisions from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the streets and highways patrolled by CHP. A week ago, Nov. 25, without the rain there were 69 traffic collisions.
Drivers are advised to slow down, keep a safe following distance, turn on the vehicle’s headlights, make certain windshield wipers are on, tires are good and there is enough gas in the vehicle. Running out of gas on busy, wet streets creates a dangerous traffic hazard.
“I would slow down dramatically. Leave enough time to get [to your destination],” he said.
In addition, regardless whether there is rain, it is important to not drive distracted. Cellphones and even passengers can be a distraction.
“With a [rainstorm], visibility is lower … a driver needs to stay focused,” he said.