Strong winds hit southern California, Pasadena declares state of emergency

Red Flag Warning map 12-1-2011

windThe predicted strong winds have hit much of southern California, at least in the far north and the Los Angeles areas. The city of Pasadena declared a local state of emergency because of downed power lines and the streets being littered with tree limbs. The mayor asked for help from Los Angeles County Public Works to help clear the streets. The city schools and libraries are closed today.

Wind speeds LA area 0943 PT 12-1-2011
Wind gust speeds in the Los Angeles area, 9:43 a.m. PT 12-1-2011

As of 7 a.m. local time about 300,000 utility customers across Southern California were hit with power outages as the Santa Ana winds caused damage throughout the region. But the winds in San Diego County, where San Diego Gas and Electric turns off the power during periods of extreme winds, they are comparatively mild and the gusts have not yet met the the threshold for flipping the switch, according to the SDG&E site.

Red Flag Warning map 12-1-2011
Red Flag Warning map 12-1-2011

Here are some of the strongest wind gusts we were able to find in California:

  • 94 mph, Mt. Elizabeth near Sonora
  • 106 mph, Grey Butte, near Mt. Shasta
  • 97 mph, Whitaker Peak, near Castaic Lake
  • 72 mph, San Rafael Hills, near Glendale
  • 83 mph, Acton

We are not aware of any fires larger than 100 acres burning in the area – yet.

The prediction is for the strong winds to continue through Friday afternoon. Below is the latest red flag warning from the National Weather Service for the Los Angeles area. (Maybe one day the NWS will fix that damned CAPS LOCK key):

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URGENT – FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LOS ANGELES/OXNARD CA

1005 AM PST THU DEC 1 2011

…RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON OVER LOS ANGELES AND VENTURA COUNTIES FOR STRONG OFFSHORE WINDS AND MODERATELY LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…

A COLD LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER ARIZONA WILL CONTINUE TO GENERATE STRONG NORTH TO NORTHEAST OFFSHORE WINDS OVER MOST OF LOS ANGELES AND VENTURA COUNTIES THROUGH MOST OF FRIDAY. PEAK SUSTAINED WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO EXCEED 40 MPH…ESPECIALLY ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE VALLEYS AND MOUNTAINS…WITH PEAK WIND GUSTS LIKELY EXCEEDING 60 MPH. THESE WINDS WILL ALSO HELP TO MAINTAIN LOW HUMIDITY READINGS…ESPECIALLY OVER THE COASTS AND VALLEYS. ALTHOUGH THESE WINDS SHOULD WEAKEN BY FRIDAY EVENING…THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF GUSTY NORTHEAST WINDS LATE SATURDAY INTO SUNDAY.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+