Mariposa & Yosemite

Trees are falling and roads are closing as strong winds arrive in mountain community

National Weather Service Hanford

A wind advisory for the Mariposa, Madera, and Fresno County Foothills is in effect until 10 a.m. Tuesday and gusts have already knocked down trees in the mountain area, according to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.

The advisory was not scheduled to go into effect until 4 p.m. Monday, but the winds picked up in Bass Lake and North Fork at around 7:30 a.m., triggering the advisory early, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Dudley.

Winds reached 58 mph in Cascadel Heights near North Fork, but reached a lull by the afternoon. Dudley said he expected the winds to pick up in the evening and approach 60 mph over the Sierra Nevada and 40 mph over the foothills.

He said the worst of the winds in the evening are expected in the same areas that were affected in the morning.

The Madera County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday morning that Road 274 in Bass Lake between Road 222 and Road 432 in Bass Lake was closed due to numerous fallen trees.

The California Highway Patrol also reported fallen trees near the intersection of Deer Run Trail Road and Cedar Valley Drive a few miles north of Yosemite Forks, as well as the intersection of Road 426 and Road 222 in Bass Lake.

Dudley said the tree mortality in the area increases the likelihood of trees falling over. As of 2017, the Tree Mortality Task Force reported there were 14,314,000 dead trees in Madera County.

The NWS also warned of falling power lines.

The strong winds have also affected operations at China Peak Mountain Resort. As of 10:45 a.m., two of its ski lift chairs had stopped operations.

Kayla Serrato, spokesperson for the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, said drivers should use caution while traveling along roadways, or when you’re near dead or dying trees and power lines.

“If they come upon a tree in the roadway, we recommend that they turn around. We don’t recommend that residents drive around or navigate through dead or dying trees,” she said.

Dudley said these winds are called Mono Winds, which the National Weather Service describes as “localized wind that blows across the western slopes of the central Sierra Nevada and into the foothills below from the northeast.”

The wind blows downhill and picks up speed as it makes its way down.

Dudley said the mountain area usually sees Mono Winds up to three times a year and are most common between December and January.