Downed trees and thousands of people without power. Thanksgiving began in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties with a red flag warning and hot, dry winds from Santa Ana expected to abate Friday morning.
For much of Thursday, there was a strong wind warning in the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, the Ventura Valleys, as well as the mountains of Santa Monica and Los Angeles County. Gusts to 71 mph in more mountainous areas. A particularly windy hot spot between Santa Clarita and Burbank — known as the Magic Mountain Truck Trail — hit 99 mph on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
With winds expected to remain fairly gusty through late Friday morning, weather officials advised fire-prone communities to remain alert.
“The fire hazard will be there until tomorrow,” said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “The air will still be dry enough to cause that increased fire risk.”
A wildfire called the Sandstone Fire broke out Thursday afternoon in an unincorporated mountainous portion of Ventura County. It destroyed no structures or caused any injuries before being quickly contained and extinguished. The county fire department tweeted that it eventually mapped the fire to about half an acre.
The winds marked the third Santa Ana event in a week after strong gusts toppled semi trucks, damaged electrical equipment and started a fire at a Fontana pallet yard.
As a precautionary measure to prevent a downed power line from causing a fire, Edison in Southern California cut power to thousands of customers Thursday.
As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, more than 4,200 customers in Riverside County and 3,150 customers in Ventura County were subject to a temporary, proactive “public safety shutdown,” the company said.
Santa Ana winds, the infamous, often devastating winds that mark a distinct California season, tend to wreak havoc each fall when a dome of cold, high-pressure air develops over Nevada and the Great Basin area. This high pressure forces the air to spread in all directions, including over the mountains and toward Southern California.
Instead of a coastal breeze flowing from the ocean to land, wind conditions in Los Angeles are reversed during these high-pressure events: Santa Anas blow in at super-speed and overheat, descend mountainsides, kick up the foothills, and take down the trees as they make their way to the sea.
Because of this reversal, the temperatures typical of the various microclimates in Southern California are also being reversed. Beach towns along the Los Angeles and Ventura coasts are expected to experience warmer, sunnier weather on Thursday and Friday, with temperatures in the mid-70s to below the 80s. The mountains and deserts, on the other hand, remain cooler and in the mid-60s.
Temperatures across the region are expected to cool by Saturday, with temperatures in the mid-60s and lower into the 70s. There is also a chance of light rain on Monday and Tuesday, but officials said weather models are still too far were gone in order to make a more accurate prediction.