The Paly Voice

Fallen tree disrupts morning traffic

Emma van der Veen, Author

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A California Live Oak tree lays on the ground in front of the Palo Alto High School bell tower on Thursday morning. The tree blocked off part of the El Camino parking lot, causing increased traffic. Photo: Rachel Code.

A California Live Oak tree lays on the ground in front of the Palo Alto High School bell tower on Thursday morning. The tree blocked off part of the El Camino parking lot, causing increased traffic, according to campus supervisor Carl Hubenthal. Photo: Rachel Code.

The Palo Alto High School administration is waiting on landscape clearing personnel to remove a large California Live Oak tree that fell into the El Camino parking lot next to the tower building this morning.

The tree fell between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., according to landscape worker José Guzman. This disturbance also affected parking traffic, according to campus supervisor Carl Hubenthal.

“Traffic was a lot slower than normal,” Hubenthal said. “We still got pretty much everybody cleared by about 8:20 [a.m.], but usually we clear people by 8:15 [a.m.]. We had to stay out here [in the parking lot] and the cones are still up so that people still take it slow. We had to block off one of the turns because the tree is totally in the way.”

Hubenthal says that administration is waiting on landscape clearing company workers to come cut up and clear the tree, but that district-wide demand due to recent stormy weather is slowing the process.

“It should be [cleared] a couple of hours from now,” Hubenthal said. “The district is having a lot of trees that are down, so they are having to do this [clear trees] on all of the campuses. Hopefully it will be in the next hour [8:30 to 9:30 a.m.], but it might not be until lunch.”

According to Hubenthal, the tree’s fall can attributed to the effects of the California drought and recent weather.

“After a long period of drought where the roots [of a large tree] are very dry, air pockets form in the roots of the tree and the roots shrink,” Hubenthal said. “Then, when you get a heavy downpour or a long, steady rain after that, just the weight of the tree will pop it right out of the ground.”

Campus workers will be checking other similar trees at Paly to confirm that students and staff are safe on campus, according to Hubenthal.

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