SoCal Winds Down Trees, Ddelay Flights, Cause Power Outages

AP Wire Service

LOS ANGELES (AP) – High winds buffeted Southern California on Thursday, knocking out power to thousands of people, toppling trees and even keeping some planes from landing.

More than 20,000 homes and business in Los Angeles had outages, said Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Carol Tucker. By evening, 8,000 customers were still without power. About 13,000 customers of Southern California Edison also lost power at some point due to high winds, said Edison spokesman Paul Klein.

Repair crews working to restore power often returned to the same areas more than once, Tucker said.

“The crews get out and repair one problem and they get a report of another problem,” she said.

At Los Angeles International Airport, winds gusting over 40 mph temporarily kept some planes from landing.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a half-hour ground stop, in which planes departing for Los Angeles from other Western cities were kept on the ground until the winds died down. Two flights already in the air were diverted 50 miles east to Ontario Airport, said airport spokesman Tom Winfrey. Planes leaving Los Angeles International were not affected.

It wasn’t immediately known how many flights were delayed.

In the Angeles National Forest, just north of Los Angeles, winds pushed a five-acre brush dangerously close to the Wildlife Waystation, a 160-acre refuge for wild and exotic animals, before it was controlled. No other fires were reported.

The National Weather Service declared a fire weather watch for some areas of Southern California, but later canceled it because moisture levels in vegetation remained sufficiently high.

Gale warnings and small craft advisories were posted for coastal waters, and high surf hit some beaches.

Areas hardest hit by power outages and downed trees were East Los Angeles, the Crenshaw district south of downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, near downtown, Tucker said.

Trees were also blown down in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

In Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, a fallen tree seriously damaged a house, forcing two adults and four children in the Canoga Park area to find temporary shelter, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells.

Red Cross officials were helping the family find a place to stay, Wells said.

The Santa Ana wind conditions, in which desert winds pick up speed as they blow through mountain canyons toward the Pacific Ocean, were expected to continue through Saturday, said Bruce Rockwell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“We can expect areas of wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph, especially during the morning hours,” Rockwell said.