Originally created 04/09/00

Storm downs trees, causes brief outages



Albert Rosenthal returned from the Masters Tournament to his home in the 2900 block of Stratford Drive on Saturday to find an 80-foot tree lying in his front yard.

It was a scene repeated several times throughout the area because of a quick-moving thunderstorm.

Mr. Rosenthal, 56, found the tree on the corner of his house. When it fell, the tree knocked another tree into the street.

His wife, Alice, was home when the tree fell.

"The wind was blowing, and then I heard this crash," Mrs. Rosenthal said. "I went around the front of my house and this tree was in my yard."

No one was injured, but the front door was blocked.

"We're very lucky that the tree hit one side of the house," Mrs. Rosenthal said.

Officials reported similar damage in other parts of Augusta, including a power line that was reported down in the 100 block of Horton Drive.

High winds in Columbia County blew at least half a dozen trees onto roads and power lines, Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.

Most of the downed trees were at the west end of the county and did not involve houses or businesses, Capt. Morris said. There were no injuries reported.

Capt. Morris said the blocked roads included Scotts Ferry Road at Yelton Road, Louisville Road and a residential street in the Appling subdivision of Rolling Meadows. Two trees that fell on power lines on Harlem-Grovetown Road were reported at about 5 p.m.

In each case, the trees were cleared within a matter of minutes. Capt. Morris said Georgia Power Co. officials were called in to assist. Columbia County Emergency Management Agency Director Pam Tucker said she knew of no major power outages in the county.

Mrs. Tucker said she witnessed a pine tree snap in front of her office at the Columbia County Government Center in Evans and throughout the day monitored winds ranging from 25-30 mph. She blamed the snapped trees on the thunderstorm that made its way through the Augusta area at about 1 p.m.

"It was not long-lived," she said. "It was a short but very powerful storm."

Mrs. Tucker said winds during the thunderstorm were approximately 50-60 mph.

The weather kept law enforcement officers busy with other concerns as well.

"We are having a tremendous amount of activated alarms with motion detectors and contact from doors and windows or doors being blown open," Capt. Morris said. "It's typical when you have high winds."

In Aiken County, reports included a tree blocking a road in the Wagener-Salley area.

Georgia Power spokesman James Peters said scattered power outages were felt throughout the state as high winds whipped through trees and jiggled power lines. In metro Atlanta, Macon, Columbus and the Augusta area, problems ranged from five customers without power for 10 minutes to 100 customers out for five minutes, he said.

Most outages were caused by lines touching one another and shorting out, or limbs and trees falling and pulling down wires, he said.

"We've had no major outages anywhere in the state," Mr. Peters said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, Ext 110, or Albert Ross at (706) 823-3512.