A gust of 209 mph 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 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 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 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. CBS San Francisco reported the winds were causing havoc for Bay Area residents. Forecasters said the most notable wind gusts were at Oakland International Airport (53 mph); Fairfield (52 mph); Hayward (49 mph); Livermore (48 mph); Stockton (48 mph); Concord (47 mph); and Vacaville (46 mph).
Driven by the gale-force winds, the waters of the San Francisco Bay rose up, drenching those who dared to venture too close, the station reported.
"What we got going on down here, like, straight mini-tsunami," said Oakland resident Michalla Moiss. "Just very unexpected today."
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 .