Strong winds from storm destroys barn, topples trees in Caruthers

CARUTHERS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Some valley towns and farms were hit hard by a rare summer thunderstorm Monday night. Trees snapped, fences fell, shingles were torn off roofs, and some crops were uprooted during the powerful thunderstorm.

Rain, wind, and lightning are in the forecast for the second day. All this as residents work to clean-up the damage from an intense summer storm the night before.

About half of an 80-acre orchard near Caruthers was ruined. The trees were completely uprooted when 70 mile an hour winds tore through here.

The damage is significant and widespread for those in the Caruthers area. A look from above shows half of an almond orchard near Kamm Avenue destroyed. The trees snapped at the root, and many nearby residents said the storm was so powerful it seemed like a tornado. But the national weather service meteorologists say it was just a fierce weather system accompanied by violent winds.

"What happened last night is we had a continuous line of storms move through at a particular rate," Jerald Meadows with the NWS said. "Storms were moving very fast because a bunch of moisture was coming in behind it plus the outflow it was producing them. That quasi-micro burst."

Poultry farmers said within minutes the howling wind left a path of destruction. At the turkey farm at Westlawn and Manning, five buildings that housed birds were damaged. Fences were down, and Shannon Vargas and her family were literally chasing turkeys trying to contain them.
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Cleanup will soon begin at a ranch in Fresno County after a barn was destroyed by Monday night's wild weather.

Water and feed lines were broken, so the first problem was figuring out how to feed 40,000 birds.

"It's emotional," she said. "It's pretty devastating not knowing what's next, rebuilding."

Not far away at C and B Ranch at Jameson and Nebraska, a barn was destroyed. Aerial footage shows pieces of building made it all the way to neighboring orchards. Toby Harrison said feathers were flying as he and his family worked to save 28,000 chicks in the barn, and around 90 to 95 percent lived.

"It's kind of overwhelming a little bit," Harrison said. "Cause you know, wow it just that quick, that fast. But I'm just glad that everybody is okay."

Based on the angle of the trees that snapped- meteorologists can determine the type of storm.

"Straight line winds, everything is moving in the same direction," Meadows said. "As you can see the trees behind me, they are all moving in one direction. Tornados they will actually curve inward whereas a down burst wind will come down, hit the ground and move out."

These trees there are 16 years old, so they are more mature. But the damage is several hundred thousand dollars. In fact, many almonds were on the ground set to be harvested Wednesday.
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