Powerful Santa Ana winds have caused chaos Thursday in Southern California neighborhoods known for their towering trees after at least one person was injured and officials closed popular parks.
Santa Ana winds happen in Southern California and are named after where they originate: the Santa Ana Mountains. These powerful winds from the east side of the mountains can affect temperatures and cause wildfire danger. They can also bring other wind-related hazards like downed power lines.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in a tweet that dozens of trees and small structures were blown over during the wind event.
San Diego city officials said a 30-year-old woman suffered severe injuries after an 80-foot eucalyptus tree fell on her. She was taken to an area hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Due to the downed trees, city officials evacuated Balboa Park, Chollas Lake and Presidio Park.
On Thursday, the National Weather Service offices in San Diego and Los Angeles reported winds gusts of more than 90 mph.
The highest wind gust in the San Diego area of 93 mph was recorded early in the day on Sill Hill, according to the NWS. Gusts up to 35 mph were recorded at San Diego Airport.
A peak wind gust of 112 mph was recorded within the past 24 hours along the Magic Mountain Truck Trail, according to NWS Los Angeles.
Thursday’s winds turned large trees – normally a charming feature – into a danger for San Diego residents.
Gloria told residents to avoid walking near trees when outside and to “exercise extreme caution.”
California Transportation officials closed several routes due to downed trees in the area, including a ramp onto northbound Interstate 5.
Public works crews were out Thursday clearing giant tree branches, and whole trees knocked down by gusting winds blocking streets and walkways. Streetlights were also damaged by the high winds, according to city officials.
Strong Santa Ana winds will continue into Thursday night before diminishing overnight.
According to the Balboa Park website, the 1,200-acre park will reopen on Friday.
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