High winds gusting at 45 and 50 miles per hour toppled a campus pine tree at UCLA sometime over night and snapped a eucalyptus branch in Royce Quad, requiring hard-working Facilities Management crews to clean up the mess before thousands of Bruin Day visitors descend on the campus Saturday.
The fallen tree and limb caused no injuries, but the eucalyptus branch shattered a rare lamp-post bulb in Royce Quad before dropping onto a tent set up for Bruin Day. Some 14,000 newly admitted students and their families are expected to visit campus on Saturday. The pine tree narrowly missed two walkway lights and caused no damage, said Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor of facilities management at UCLA.
The blustery conditions scattered pine needles and other debris across campus. Campus meteorologist James Murakami said this morning’s winds should be the strongest and predicted calmer conditions for the weekend.
“Bruin Day will still be kind of breezy, but I don’t expect tomorrow’s winds will be anywhere nearly as bad,” Murakami said. “Overnight, peak wind was measured on campus at 45 miles per hour at 3 a.m., and around 8 a.m. there were 51 mile-per-hour gusts. As we speak, it’s come down to a balmy 33 miles per hour.”
The high winds were the result of a wide difference between high- and low-pressure systems, Murakami explained. That promotes strong wind, especially around L.A.'s canyons and passes … “the Sepulveda Pass in our case,” he added.
The eucalyptus branch was removed quickly, and the pine tree should be removed by the end of the day, said Schmader.
“We’ll have everything ready for Saturday, but the timing couldn’t be worse,” he said. “We worked so hard to make the campus look good for Bruin Day, and now we have to start over. We had a small crew coming in tomorrow to sweep the streets and walkways before everyone arrives. [Now] we’re tripling the size of the crew.”