(WASHINGTON) -- Strong winds across the northeast Saturday forced people to hold on to their hats and newspapers, but the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., was unable to hold its ground.
The tree, which was planted on the Ellipse in 1978, came crashing down shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday, after strong, gusting winds swept through the nation’s capital. Sustained winds were said to be around 25 mph, with gusts around 50 mph when the 48-year-old tree was blown to the ground.
The National Christmas Tree is a Colorado blue spruce that once stood over 42 feet tall, however, by the time the wind was done with it, only four feet of it was left in the ground. The fallen tree will be removed from the grounds and mulched.
Officials tell ABC News that a replacement tree had already been picked out prior to the collapse, and that the 2011 Christmas tree lighting ceremony will happen as planned.
A high wind warning was issued for Washington, D.C., until 9 p.m. Saturday, with forecasts calling for sustained winds of 20-30 mph and wind gusts of up to 60 mph throughout the area.
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