'Mono wind event' topples over a dozen sequoias at Yosemite National Park

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At least 15 giant sequoias at Yosemite National Park have been toppled following a “Mono wind event” last week that produced gusts estimated at 80 to 100 mph, according to a report.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said the event that started on Jan. 18 caused what he asserted to be “the most damage” in its recorded history — possibly costing upwards of $200 million.

Photos taken by the park and posted on social media captured the devastation. The park’s Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, and hundreds of other trees were uprooted, with some falling on structures and homes, officials said. 

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And that was only the beginning. 

“There’s more damage happening, too,” Gediman told the Los Angeles Times. “We’ve got heavy snow falling and snow accumulations in the trees and that’s causing tree failures…. One fell on a ranger’s house in the valley.”

The park will remain closed until Monday as a result of the ongoing winter storm that caused more than 18 inches of snow to fall in the Yosemite Valley area — following the fierce winds. 

“Heavy, wet snow has caused trees and branches to fall throughout the park, causing damage to park facilities and vehicles,” the park wrote on its Facebook account. 

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The Mariposa Grove contains about 500 mature giant sequoias. They are the third “longest-lived” tree species, with the oldest known specimen said to have been 3,266 years old, according to the National Park Service (NPS).

This photo provided by Yosemite National Park shows a fallen giant sequoia that came down during the Mono wind event on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in Yosemite National Park. (Yosemite National Park via AP)

When the park reopens Monday, officials said areas south of Yosemite Valley, including Mariposa Grove, will stay closed “until further notice.”

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Campgrounds and lodges have been closed for several weeks because the park is trying to reduce the chances of visitors spreading the coronavirus.

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