Lion blows through a day early

The saying about March applied more to the last day of February, which sported high winds and about a half-inch of rain.

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Out for lunch downtown, Frank Erickson carries a brightly colored umbrella, keeping an eye on the weather after a morning of high-winds gives way to an afternoon of rain on Monday, February 28, 2011. Monday, February 28, 2011

WALLA WALLA -- February literally blew out of town Monday.

Blustery winds brought down at least one large tree, tore off branches and kicked over trash cans during the day. According to the National Weather Service, the wind peaked at 58 mph shortly before 11 a.m. Monday and sustained winds of 44 mph were measured in the area.

Along with the winds, the storm brought a soaking rain which started in the afternoon and continued overnight. By midnight, .45 inches had fallen at Walla Walla Regional Airport and additional rainfall early today had brought the total to more than a half-inch.

A tree which blew into a power line knocked out power to 308 customers in the area of Borleske Stadium starting at 11:14 a.m., said Tom Gauntt, Pacific Power spokesman. Electricity was restored at 2:30 p.m. In areas served by Columbia Rural Electrical Association, scattered blackouts were reported in outlying areas, but no failures occurred in the city, a spokesman said.

In another wind-related incident, a tree toppled into a Walla Walla County parking lot at Fourth Avenue and Alder Street, crushing the back end of a parked county Health Department vehicle.

According to the National Weather Service, a low pressure system will move along the Pacific Northwest coast tonight and Wednesday, bringing another round of rain and higher elevation snow along with increasing south winds. The strongest winds are forecast to be over the higher terrain along with the Blue Mountain foothills and Grande Ronde Valley.

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