Atmospheric river brings heavy winds, fallen trees and destruction to campus facilities

March 14, 2023 — by Christina Chang
Photo by Greg Louie
Fallen tree branches litter the ramp in front of the library.
The Maintenance and Operations Team was quick to respond to destruction caused by the storm.

Saratoga was drenched in heavy rain Tuesday, March 14, as California saw yet another powerful atmospheric river — a type of storm “named for their long, narrow shape and the prodigious amount of water they carry,” according to the New York Times. This follows a previous atmospheric river that loomed over the state last week.

The National Weather Service issued a High Wind Warning for the San Francisco Bay Area at around 12 a.m. Tuesday morning. Saratoga and its surrounding area saw gusts of wind 55 to 70 mph. The conditions are forecasted to continue until 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

With heavy winds toppling trees and powerlines, some families reported power outages. However, Saratoga High still had electricity; principal Greg Louie announced the Student Center would be open until 6 p.m. Tuesday night for student use.

As a safety measure, students were required to eat indoors during lunch so as to remain protected from the strong winds and falling tree branches. Some campus activities, such as swim and Speech and Debate practice, were canceled due to the inclement weather and power outages.

Louie sent out an email to all staff after school notifying them of the damage the heavy storm inflicted on the campus.

The top of one of the redwood trees broke off and appeared to have flown northeast; it now rests on top of the gym roof. Additionally, a number of other broken branches lined the ramp along the side of the gym leading to the library.

A similar situation of fallen branches occurred with the large redwood tree by the cafeteria. School resource aide Tammy Coe, assistant principal Matt Torrens and college and career counselor Brad Ward surrounded the area with benches and taped it off with caution tape.

A tree also snapped in half on the other side of the cafeteria facing the parking lot.

Two large branches from a tree in the parking lot also fell and narrowly missed some of the parked cars.

In regards to sports facilities, the outdoor basketball courts’ floor was lifted and rolled.

The wind screens between the tennis courts violently flapped in the wind. The baseball batting cage sign also sustained some damage. Additionally, a large branch fell on a bin near the softball field, and the tarps to the softball batting cages were thrashed and will require replacement.

Still, Louie said he was proud of how the school handled the inclement weather.

“I hope everyone is safe and well,” Louie said, in the email sent to all staff members. “I want to take a moment to thank our Maintenance and Operations Team for responding to our needs to tape off areas, respond to broken branches and clean up the general destruction that came from the tremendous winds.”

All visuals courtesy of Greg Louie

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