SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A gust of 209 mph (336 kph) was recorded atop a California peak on Sunday, a potential record that wowed forecasters monitoring a cold storm that moved south through the state dumping snow, rain and hail.
The blast of wind was captured around 7:45 a.m. by an instrument at 9,186 feet (2,800 meters) on Kirkwood Mountain south of Lake Tahoe, said National Weather Service forecaster Alex Hoon.
He and his colleagues at the NWS office in Reno, Nevada watched in surprise as wind speeds across the crest of the Sierra Nevada hit 150 mph and kept rising.
“It went up and up,” Hoon said. It could take months for state climatologists to verify the record, he said.
“But the way that the winds did ramp up, it looks legitimate,” Hoon said. “It’s an exciting moment for sure.”
The previous record was a gust of 199 mph (320 kph) at Ward Mountain west of Lake Tahoe on Nov. 16, 2017.
The storm that caused widespread in flooding last week in Washington and Oregon brought a strong cold front to California.
Waves topping 5 feet (1.5 meters) were recorded on Lake Tahoe, where air temperatures dipped below freezing.
Powerful winds downed trees and knocked out power to tens of thousands in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The same system dumped hail in parts of greater Los Angeles and snow in mountain areas north and east of the city.
Heavy rain fell as stars arrived for the Academy Awards in Hollywood on Sunday. The red carpet was protected by a tent but the position of some camera crews had them just outside the shelter, sending them scrambling to find tarps and plastic to protect their gear.
Temperatures in LA were in the 50s (about 13 Celsius).