Santa Ana Windstorm Lashes Southern California
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Strong, potentially damaging winds out of the north blew across San Diego County today, especially in the mountains.
Special Feature Real Time Wind Speeds
Click on the National Weather Service map to see real time wind speeds.
Wind Storm Safety Tips
Never touch a downed power line, which could be energized even if it looks safe
Use flashlights during outages; candles can start fires
Never cook or heat indoors with items meant to be used outside, such
as camping equipment. The fumes could be toxic
Check on the welfare of neighbors.
The change of weather stems from a strong upper level low pressure system that moved south into the area Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service. The agency issued a high wind warning for the mountains until 2 p.m. Friday.
A less serious wind advisory is in effect in coastal, valley and deserts areas until 2 p.m. Friday.
"Winds will mainly be confined to the ridge tops and northeast portions of the mountains today, then turn ... and spread into the coastal slopes and foothills tonight,'' the Weather Service advised.
In the mountains, sustained winds of 20-40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph were expected. Elsewhere in the county, winds of 15-20 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph, were likely, according to the Weather Service.
"Wind gusts this strong are capable of downing trees and power lines, and blowing over unsecured outdoor objects,'' the Weather Service advised.
"These winds will also create hazardous conditions for high profile vehicles.''
Visibility will be reduced to less than 3 miles in areas with blowing dust, according to the agency.
Special Feature Power Outages In San Diego County
SDG&E Power Outage Map
The windy weather also prompted a gale warning for local boaters. A gale warning is in effect until 4 a.m. Friday for coastal waters off San Diego County.
Boaters should be prepared for rough seas due to short-period wind waves from the northeast and a longer period westerly swell, according to the Weather Service.
"Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires experience and properly equipped vessels. It is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience seek safe harbor prior to the onset of gale conditions,'' the Weather Service advised.
Wind Damage Reports From Los Angeles County
Pasadena has closed schools and libraries and declared a local emergency as fierce winds hammer the Los Angeles suburb.
It's the first such declaration since 2004.
Spokeswoman Lisa Derdarian says 40 people were evacuated from an apartment building Thursday morning after a tree collapsed, smashing part of the roof. She says residents smelled gas and smoke.
Pasadena City College and other schools were closed.
Derdarian says two house fires, possibly caused by downed power lines, critically burned one person, seriously injured three others and forced seven others to flee.
Derdarian says there have been hundreds of reports of wires down. Trees also fell and some roads are impassable.
Overnight, a tree collapsed the canopy of a gas station but an employee shut off the pumps and no fuel spilled.
National Weather Service High Wind Warning
As of 4:39 a.m. Dec. 1
A STRONG UPPER LEVEL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM IS MOVING INTO THE AREA
TODAY. THIS IS BEGINNING TO GENERATE STRONG AND POTENTIALLY
DAMAGING WINDS...MAINLY IN THE MOUNTAINS AND INLAND VALLEYS. WINDS
ARE EXPECTED TO BE STRONGEST IN THE INLAND EMPIRE...AND THE
SANTA ANA MOUNTAINS AND ADJACENT COASTAL AREAS. WINDS WILL PEAK
THIS MORNING... WEAKENING SLIGHTLY DURING THE AFTERNOON AND THEN
STRENGTHENING AGAIN FRIDAY MORNING. WINDS WILL QUICKLY DIMINISH
DURING THE DAY FRIDAY AS THE UPPER LOW MOVES EASTWARD...OUT OF THE REGION.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation's biggest municipal utility, reported 50,000 of its 1.4 million customers in the dark. About 45,000 of them are in metropolitan Los Angeles and some 5,000 others in the San Fernando Valley, said DWP spokeswoman Maychelle Yee.
The neighborhoods experiencing the most extensive impacts were Playa Del Rey, Del Rey, Westchester, Venice, Hollywood, Beverly Grove, Van Nuys and Encino, she said.
Southern California Edison, which serves Southland customers outside Los Angeles, reported that 198,652 of its customers were without power as dawn
approached as a result of outages that began Wednesday night. SCE spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady said the areas hardest hit were La Canada, Altadena, Alhambra, Monrovia and Pasadena.
Crews from both the DWP and SCE worked through the night to bring power back. The outages were believed to be affecting both residential and commercial customers.
At Los Angeles International Airport, an hourlong power outage starting around 7 p.m. Wednesday affected all passenger terminals and caused 20 inbound domestic flights and three international flights to be diverted to other area airports. Power was restored by 8 p.m. but delays lingered this morning, said LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles.
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