Powerful Winds Topple Trees, Knock Out Power

Gusts are picking up ahead of the season's first Santa Ana winds

Strong winds are blowing across Southern California at the start of what will ultimately turn into the first Santa Ana wind events of the season and a day of increased fire danger.

NBCLA Weather Page: Extended  Forecast, Weather Images

Power outages and downed trees were reported overnight when strong gust swept across the region. A red flag warning, indicating the possibility of rapid wildfire spread, was issued for Friday morning into the evening in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The damage overnight included a several vehicles -- dents and shattered windows caused by fallen trees. In West LA, a toppled tree damaged the hood and window of a pickup and smashed a minivan's window.

The pickup's owner uses the vehicle for work as a locksmith.

"It's how I make my living," said Joseph Laderos. "At least it's still running. I can probably get it fixed."

A sleeping family awoke to the crash of a large tree landing on the roof of their North Hills home. The tree fell onto the roof of the house in the 16000 block of Dearborn Street, but no injuries were reported.

"It just ripped us out of our dream," said resident Jenny Caceres.

In South LA, a tree fell on three vehicles outside a residence. Debris spread by severe wind closed Bailey Canyon and Mount Wilson Trail in Sierra Madre.

Since last night, northerly winds have been sweeping parts of Santa Barbara County and points south, with winds of 20 to 35 miles per hour accompanied by gusts of between 45 and 55. Strong gusts were reported on the 5 Freeway corridor in the San Gabriel Mountains.

In Los Angeles County, gusts of 51 mph were reported at Whitaker Peak in the San Gabriels, 38 mph at Poppy Park in the Antelope Valley, and 36 mph in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys.

A wind advisory will expire at 9 a.m. in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. But the first Santa Ana wind event will begin by Thursday evening, bringing strong winds and dry conditions through Friday.

"It's going to be a quick, but intense wind event," said NBC4 forecaster Crystal Egger.

Expect 60-mph gusts in the mountains. Somewhat tamer winds -- 20-30 mph with 40-50-mph gusts -- are expected tonight in valley areas, coastal cities like Malibu, and the Hollywood Hills.

Gusty winds will likely make driving difficult, especially for drivers in high-profile vehicles on the 5 Freeway, Antelope Valley (14) Freeway, 405 Freeway and highways 23, 101 and 118.

The Santa Ana wind season lasts from September until February.

Fire Danger, Flooding

The wind also will increase the danger of wildfire, especially as the humidity level will fall below 20 percent Thursday night. As of Thursday morning, no red flag warnings were issued, but a less serious fire weather watch will be in effect in the San Gabriels from late Thursday until Friday afternoon.

"We have been anticipating these winds for the last week," said Capt. Daniel Curry, of the Los Angeles Fire Department. "We have seven additional fire engines deployed throughout the city. We are basically on high alert for the increased fire danger."

A brush fire that broke out Thursday morning grew to 70 acres by mid-morning in the hills above Santa Barbara. The fire burning at Montecito Peak was not near homes.

A risk of coastal flooding also persists in the Southland because of a combination of high surf and unusually high tides. The highest high tides are expected during the mid to late morning hours. Water levels are expected to range from 7 to 7.5 feet.

A coastal flood advisory will be in effect until 2 p.m. in Los Angeles County and 9 p.m. in Orange County. Coastal flood advisories also will be in force in Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and San Diego counties.

Power Outages

Power outages were reported overnight, some of which were wind related. In Santa Monica, a wind-related outage affecting about 30 customers was reported at about 4:30 a.m. About 200 customers were affected by an outage in the Culver City area.

In East Hollywood, a blown transformer left more than 100 customers without power at about 1:30 a.m.

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