The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, November 27, 2019 1:20 pm

Wind topples 'Christmas on Broadway' tree

Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette

The 40-foot Colorado spruce with 40,000 lights went over with a soft whoosh today as Steve Shine, the man behind Christmas on Broadway, watched it happen.   

Shine blamed the collapse on a ferocious wind gust that swept through Broadway Plaza, just outside his office window, around 11:30 a.m. 

“No person was injured. There was no property damage. It was the best outcome from an unfortunate situation,” said Shine, adding that the 3,500-pound tree will be erected again Friday morning by Mudrack Tree Service. 

Strong, frequent wind gusts up to 60 mph moved through Indiana Michigan Power’s service area, causing downed power lines and a few broken or damaged poles, the utility reported. About 4,350 customers – 1,400 of those in the Fort Wayne area – were without power about 6:30 p.m.

The total number of I&M customers without electricity peaked at about 13,000 around 11 a.m.

John Perlich, Fort Wayne city spokesman, said the parks department removed several downed city trees throughout the city.

Winds were whipping a dangling traffic signal on St. Joe Center Road near Woodbridge Apartments on Wednesday afternoon.

Shine said in his 40 years on Broadway Plaza, he’s “never seen a wind gust of that magnitude.”

The gust hit the base of the tree and lifted it up, setting it down in a “gentle fashion,” Shine said. With no injuries or damage, there also won’t be any insurance claim, he added. 

Wind gusts ranged between 50 and 60 mph with one measured at 61 mph at Fort Wayne International Airport at 12:21 p.m., said Nathan Marsili, meteorologist at the National Weather Service of Northern Indiana. Wind gusts of 40 mph started about 9 a.m., he added. 

The high wind warning was to expire at 9 p.m. Wednesday. By today, winds should be 10 mph, Marsili said. 

The high winds are particularly problematic for semi trucks, according to Brian Walker, public information officer for the Indiana State Police, which reported one semi tipped over about 8 a.m. on Interstate 69 at the 290 mile marker near Huntington. 

Traffic was backed up for five milesfor a while, Walker said. 

The wind shear causes “disruption as they’re going down the road. As soon as you push that trailer up, you lose traction with your tires. It can just send that semi tumbling over,” Walker said. The dry conditions are apt to turn icy if precipitation occurs toward nighttime, he added. 

Open fields are of particular concern at the south end of Allen County up to the GM plan and northern areas around Auburn, northern DeKalb and southern Steuben counties, he said.

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