Extreme weather fells tree branches, replenishes Lake Lag

Over the past week, strong winds knocked down several tree branches and the Blue and White Tent — and to many students’ excitement, torrential rains filled Lake Lagunita once again.

The extreme weather is part of a broader storm along the Pacific coast which has killed at least three people and prompted California governor Gavin Newsom to mobilize over 8,300 workers to protect residents from the storm.

A weather-induced power outage forced the closure of the Redwood City (RWC) campus for all of Monday, according to Stanford’s emergency alert system. After heating and ventilation were restored to the campus, the RWC campus came back into operation on Tuesday.

Strong winds caused large tree branches to fall throughout campus. At Columbae, a tree branch above a bicycle rack fell onto the bikes below following a strong gust Sunday morning.

Joseph McDonald ’25 told The Daily that while cooking dinner, he had heard a loud cracking and crashing outside. After a fellow resident told him their bikes had been hit, McDonald rushed outside. 

“Sure enough, two of these huge tree branches had fallen on our bikes, and my bike was one of the victims,” McDonald said.

“I know people have been … hurt by falling trees on campus in the past,” McDonald said, adding that he hoped the University would trim trees more routinely. “Another resident told me that [branches on] that tree have fallen like three times in the past couple of years. So I think it’s something the University should be more aware of.”

Another Columbae resident, who did not want to be identified out of fear of retaliation, told The Daily that he called the University Sunday morning to have the branch removed. The resident said he was put on hold and that it was not until the following morning that the University sent workers in to remove the branch.

In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson Luisa Rapport wrote that trees on campus “receive assessment and maintenance on an established schedule.”

“Our tree crew and grounds team also work together to identify and address any tree issues, including storm damage, and to safely remove trees where necessary,” she wrote.

The winds also knocked down the Blue and White Tent on Sunday. According to organizers, the tent had been set up to increase opportunities to “bring groups together for genuine discussion.” As of Feb. 6, the tent had not yet been reconstructed.

On the brighter side for some students, heavy rains have filled Lake Lagunita once more. The lake, long a popular relaxation spot for students across campus, had stayed dry throughout the winter. Many students said they are now looking forward to swimming or boating in the lake, or simply enjoying the view.

Among these students is Isaac Nehring ’26, an undergraduate senator who told The Daily that he had many fond experiences from the filled lake over the past year.

“One of my favorite memories at Lake Lag was completing the beer mile, spur of the moment, then hopping in the lake right after to cool off,” he wrote in an email to The Daily. “It was just a fun, spontaneous time.”

McDonald agreed that a full Lake Lagunita felt like something he was “missing out on.” He said that last year, when the lake filled naturally for the first time in many years, it was “the talk of campus for that entire winter quarter.”

“People were throwing parties over there, just going and hanging out.” McDonald said. “It was just a great spot on campus for people to go and hang out. We need more spots like that.”

When asked for comment on the refilling of Lake Lagunita, Rapport referred The Daily to a previous article for which she had written that “use of the Lagunita reservoir-bed for recreation is a thing of the past,” due to efforts to protect the local steelhead trout population.

Nehring, however, wrote that while he acknowledged that many factors were at play, he hoped the school could “loosen up a little” and allow the lake to stay filled. 

“Filling the lake would be great for the Stanford community if done responsibly,” he wrote. “[I]t can bring us together for fun in many forms and help us appreciate campus more.”