High winds cause damage throughout Mid-Columbia

November 2, 2013 

— Strong winds wreaked havoc Saturday across the Mid-Columbia, tipping over a semi-truck, uprooting trees and knocking down the front section of an elementary school under construction.

Blowing dust caused low visibility on many roadways until the heart of the storm passed after 5 p.m.

At mid-day, wind gusts of 60 mph were recorded in Benton City, 58 mph at Hanford and 56 mph at Vista Field in Kennewick.

The National Weather Service out of Pendleton said the winds would “diminish a bit overnight,” but to still expect at least breezy conditions in some areas. Sunday is expected to be mostly cloudy with rain showers and cooler temperatures.

Washington State Patrol Troopers and Benton Fire District 1 crews were called about 2 p.m. Saturday for a tractor trailer that was blown over onto its side on Highway 397, east of Olympia Street in Finley. Fuel spilled onto the highway from the truck, but reportedly was contained to the road.

The semi was pulled to the shoulder and ditch area, and crews planned to wait for the winds to die down before uprighting it, reported District 1 Capt. Devin Helland.

The Department of Transportation closed the roadway for a couple of hours.

In west Pasco, part of the structure for a new elementary school fell down.

The school, which has yet to be named, has been under construction since June near the intersection of Powerline Road and Road 52. It is scheduled to be open for the 2014-15 school year and is being paid for by a $46.8 million bond approved by voters in February.

On Highway 240 between Richland and Vantage, troopers were leading motorists through thick drifts of tumbleweeds.

One driver told the Herald that blowing tumbleweeds were causing road hazards along the bypass highway, and said caution was recommended if traveling on that road. The driver also reported that troopers said Department of Transportation workers would be plowing the tumbleweeds.

The State Patrol restricted all mobile homes from traveling on Interstate 82 between milepost 82 near Prosser and milepost 131 near the Oregon border. The restriction was to be in place until the high winds subsided.

Law enforcement officers also responded to numerous calls of trees and power lines down, blocking roadways. Two trees blocked traffic on Fruitland Street, between Columbia Street and Canal Drive.

Check back for updates.

Readers are encouraged to send in photos of wind-related damage to be shared in an online gallery. Submit them at www.tricityherald.com/sendphoto.

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