Double danger of gusty winds in the Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

A lot of people will feel one of the dangers in their sinuses and lungs as the wind blows dust into their bodies. But wind gusts can also be trouble for drivers out there on the roads.

Don't let the beautiful view of the mountains deceive you: The air in the Central Valley is not ideal for breathing right now. Even as wind blows some of the pollution out, it stirs up a lot of dust.

"Blowing dust is particulate matter and that can be inhaled and it can cause problems for people who have respiratory problems," said Janelle Schneider of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Some of the effects of the wind are more visible. A basketball hoop fell into a car in Northwest Fresno Thursday, a tree snapped in half in a picture sent in by an Action News viewer, and palm trees took a beating east of Clovis as the sun set Wednesday.

Freeway traffic could also be affected. Highway patrol officers say the wind can play tricks on drivers, especially in big rigs.

"You have to pay close attention because it'll only take a second to knock you off your lane," said CHP officer Scott Jobinger.

And the dust is really the worst part for drivers as well -- reducing visibility like another familiar driving danger.

"It's almost like driving in the fog and obviously we're all used to driving in the fog here in the Valley," Jobinger said. "So treat it the same -- slow down, increase following distance, and if you can't see get your vehicle completely off the roadway before you come to a stop."

The CHP put up wind advisories up the Grapevine and at Pacheco Pass. And on this holiday weekend, they're warning people with travel trailers that pulling the trailers could be dangerous.

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