Gale-force winds wreak havoc in southern California

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CNN — Gale-force winds are forecast to reach southern California again Friday night, but are expected to be much weaker than previous hurricane-force Santa Ana winds that uprooted trees, smashed cars and houses, and knocked out electricity there Wednesday night and Thursday morning, CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano said.

High-wind warnings are in effect from Los Angeles to Ventura County, California, Marciano said. But with gusts predicted at 60 to 65 mph, “it will be nothing like the damaging winds we saw on Thursday.” And the strong winds are expected to hit areas near the mountains and in the canyons.

“LA proper will not see much,” Marciano said, but the “fire threat remains critical through tomorrow.”

Residents in affected areas should take Friday night’s winds seriously. “With limbs that have already been weakened, there could be some debris flying around,” Marciano said.

In light of the winds, Southern California Edison is warning residents on its website “to stay far away from power lines”.

Forecasters expect the wind direction to shift, applying pressure on another side of objects in its path. Friday’s weather should come out of the east-northeast, whereas Thursday’s mighty winds pummeled down from the north.

By Sunday morning, the weather pattern producing the wind is expected to break down.

Winds on par with those of a Category 4 hurricane in higher elevations downed hundreds of power lines southern California this week, leaving more than 200,000 customers without power, but electricity providers have made significant progress restoring power to customers.

Gusts stronger than 140 mph were measured on the Sierra Crest mountain ridge, according to the National Weather Service. They were not as strong in lower-lying areas, but these also were hit hard by the Santa Ana winds.

Widespread damage in southwestern California led Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich to issue a state of emergency “to ensure that state and federal financial resources are available to serve county residents impacted by the windstorms.”

The state of emergency was still in effect Friday morning.

In a statement, the county said winds wrecked property, particularly in Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Monrovia.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported that, as of 6 a.m. Pacific time Friday, about 94,000 of its 1.4 million customers still did not have electricity. The department added, in a news release, that more than 122,000 customers had already gotten their electricity restored.

The utility estimated that customers without power — most of them in the Los Angeles metropolitan area — would most likely get service restored by Friday or Saturday.

As of 4 a.m. PST, 151,602 Southern California Edison customers were without power, down from 205,000 households Thursday evening, the company said. Hard-hit communities in the utility’s 50,000-square-mile service area included Alhambra, Altadena, Arcadia, El Monte, La Canada Flintridge, San Bernardino and San Gabriel.

Los Angeles International Airport, which had a partial power outage and significant delays Wednesday, appears to be operating normally.

Santa Ana wind is a condition in which strong winds descend to the Pacific Coast around Los Angeles from inland desert regions, according to the weather service.

It’s all part of a system the federal weather agency called “the strongest easterly wind event in the past several years.”