It’s over a week that devastating winds have lashed several Southern California cities, and with more to come, power still has not yet been restored to thousands.
Mother nature brought its rage to Southern California last Wednesday night. Strong Santa Ana winds tore through our area knocking down trees and disrupting power to local communities.
Every fall, this weather event best known as Santa Ana winds arrive in Southern California, blowing east off the desert and whisking off branches and stirring debris about streets and neighborhoods. But this was no typical seasonal weather event.
Toppled trees and downed power lines were the result of what Paul Goodloe, Meteorologist the Weather Channel, described as a “Pressure Gradient.” According to Goodloe, winds were mainly blowing from the North-Northwest, flowing though the valley where freeway 210 sits in the blast the area. This was unusual. “Our models told us that this would be a classic Santa Ana event,” says Goodloe. “The Pressure Gradient would be extremely strong and devastating wind.”
The hardest hit areas were Pasadena, San Gabriel, San Bernardino, Alhambra, Altadena, Arcadia, El Monte, La Cañada Flintridge, Monrovia and Sierra Madre.
While at work in El Segundo,Veronica Whitfield Carter, Altadena CA, received text messages from friends urging her get home because the winds were blowing really fierce.
“As I approached my home, the winds were so intense my car was being rocked from side-to-side and debris was tossed around everywhere,” said Ms. Carter.
Winds reached speeds as high as 97 miles per hour. By Thursday more than 340,000 people were without power. Oak trees, palms, as well as other trees splintered.
At the Shell gas station on east Colorado Blvd, a large tree fell on the roof, crushing the pumps beneath it. No one was injured.
Rick Law, Altadena resident, says, “I’ve lived here all my life and I have never witness anything like this.”
After Wednesday night’s storm Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency. Residents were urged to stay off the roads, for fear of being crushed by
branches, debris or electrocuted by downed power lines.
Schools in the affected areas including La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena, and Monrovia were closed for two days because of power outages and to clear debris.
Southern California Edison crews continue to restore power for those customers who are without electrical service. Pasadena opened its emergency operations center at City Hall about midnight. While the City of Los Angeles activated it’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. According to Phillip Sanchez, Pasadena Chief of Police, the Police department processed more than 4,650 calls from the public from November 30 at 9 p.m. to December 2 at 1 a.m. 325 miles of streets were impacted by windstorm debris.
However, approximately 600 street trees fell and another 120 were severely damaged in the Pasadena area. Some 40 housing units were red tagged. In Altadena, several evergreens along Christmas Tree Lane were blown down. In some neighborhoods, trees crushed cars and severely damaged homes as well. Kevin Kinard, general manager, McCormick & Schmick’s Restaurant, says about 6:30 p.m. last Thursday, “we had 150 people walk in to eat, all within a half hour.” As many struggle to cope without power, temperatures at night hovered around 40 degrees.
“After the power and phone service shut down, my husband I were left with only running water,” Ms. Carter. She adds, “During the power outage the temperature in our house was approximately in the low 40’s. God forbid if we needed medical assistance.”
According to the Weather Channel wind speeds were clocked as: 97 mph at Whitaker Peak; 72 mph San Rafael Hills CA, north of Pasadena; 59 mph Malibu Hills CA; 69 mph Warm Springs CA north of Castaic Lake; 97 mph Whitaker Peak CA northwest of Santa Clarita; 68 mph Santa Fe dam, 5 NNW West Covina, Los Angeles Co; 66 mph San Rafael Hills, 3 ENE Glendale; 76 mph Acton; 55 mph Beverly Hills.