GLENDALE — Powerful wind gusts of up to 61 mph in Glendale toppled several trees throughout the city early Thursday, including a massive 50- to 70-foot Ficus tree that caused significant damage when it collapsed on two parked vehicles along Central Avenue. No injuries were reported.
Early-morning winds roared through several Glendale neighborhoods and caused major headaches for some residents who awakened to find streets littered with branches and downed trees blocking roadways on Central Avenue and Tyrrell Place.
Armen Chakmakian said he awoke about 4:50 a.m. after hearing a loud cracking sound and then a crash.
He hurried outside his apartment on the 1300 block of North Central Avenue and found the massive Ficus sprawled across the major thoroughfare.
"I was sort of half-in and half-out sleep and then the police showed up right away … and I came out and I was shocked when I saw the tree," he said. "I mean look at how big that thing is."
Strong winds uprooted the enormous tree, crushing the cement sidewalk before landing on a Lexus sedan and Ford Explorer. The heavy tree missed striking apartment buildings on both sides of Central Avenue.
"I thought it was some kind of thunder," Chakmakian said. "That's how loud it was."
Police officials said no injuries were reported in the incident.
The combination of robust winds and heavily saturated ground soil from last week's downpour caused the trees to topple, said Stuart Seto, a specialist at the National Weather Service.
On Wednesday, the weather agency warned that the wind storm could be "one of the most widespread and strongest wind episodes in the recent years."
And that's exactly what Thursday's winds delivered, Seto said.
City crews were busy at work from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday, when the winds began knocking down trees and carried debris along streets, said Public Works Director Steve Zurn.
During that time, crews were dealing with 10 significant incidents, he said.
Two tall pine trees toppled on the 3300 block of Tyrrell Place and blocked the road, Zurn said. One of the trees struck the home's roof, denting it and some solar panels.
A third tree posed a threat when it leaned over the home, but crews quickly chopped it down.
Residents say if the tree on Central Avenue had landed on the apartment units, its devastation may have been much greater since many residents were at home sleeping at that time.
A baby was also sleeping in one unit on the top floor of Chakmakian's building, he said.
"Nobody thought that thing would get knocked down."