Lightning strike splits redwood tree in yard of former mayor Kishimoto

A lightning bolt on Sunday morning (Aug. 16) split this redwood tree in the 200 block of Embarcadero Road. Photo courtesy of Yoriko Kishimoto.

By the Daily Post staff

Sunday morning’s powerful thunder and lightning storm knocked out power in Palo Alto and it split a redwood tree more than a century old in the yard of former mayor Yoriko Kishimoto on Embarcadero Road.

Kishimoto, who lives in the 200 block of Embarcadero opposite Castilleja School, said part of the tree landed in a neighbor’s yard. But she said it was miraculous that it didn’t do more damage.

The former mayor and councilwoman who now is on the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board said it definitely woke her up. It happened between 5 and 5:30 a.m.

She estimated the tree was 120 years old. Her home, in the Professorville neighborhood, was built in 1906.

Power outage

Elsewhere in Palo Alto, lightning hit a utility pole, resulting in a small fire and knocking out the power to 4,500 customers of the city’s utilities system. Most of those who lost power were in the Palo Verde and Meadow Park neighborhoods.
The thunder and lightning went on for about five hours yesterday throughout the Bay Area.

For many people, rain showers followed the thunder and lightning.

On Friday afternoon, southwestern Palo Alto (homes and businesses west of El Camino Real and south of Page Mill Road) lost power for about two hours as part of a rolling blackout ordered by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which operates the grid.

The power grid was strained by people running air conditioners in the heat wave.

Last night, the ISO was scrambling to buy electricity to prevent more rolling blackouts. At one point yesterday, it appeared the ISO was ready to order blackouts in places that included San Mateo County. But grid operators were able to buy enough power in time to prevent blackouts last night and this morning.

Conservation measures

PG&E customers are “strongly urged” to conserve electricity through at least Wednesday night through measures including:

• raising thermostats to at least 78 degrees;

• covering windows;

• avoiding use of the oven;

• using a ceiling fan to bolster air conditioners’ performance;

• opening the refrigerator as few times as possible;

• using washing machines and dishwashers early in the morning or after 10 p.m.

• Pool owners are asked to run their pumps at night rather than during the day.

Both Santa Clara and San Mateo counties are under red flag warnings because of concerns that a lightning strike might spark wildfires.