Dry heat and strong winds roll into the Southland; gusts down trees

Powerful winds blew across Southern California on Thursday, knocking out power and downing trees, giving a preview to a weekend that was forecast to bring soaring temperatures, low humidity and Santa Ana winds.

The mixture of weather — coupled with the effects of the years-long drought — will elevate the risk of wildfires during the first weekend of fall, a season when the Southland typically sees its biggest wildfires.

The strongest winds were observed Thursday evening in the Antelope Valley, Central Coast and inland mountains, where gusts reached 35 to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service

Saugus saw a peak wind of 45 mph and Santa Barbara Island saw a max speed of 52 mph. Earlier in the day, Palmdale Airport had gusts that reached 52 mph.

The gusty winds next rolled into the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills. 

In West Hollywood, the powerful winds downed a tree in the 1000 block of Laurel Avenue, damaging at least two parked cars. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies asked motorists to avoid the intersection.

The Interstate 5 Freeway corridor in Los Angeles County could see gusts of up to 60 mph, forecasters said. 

Scattered power outages were reported, but it was unclear if the wind had caused the loss of power. 

A total of about 3,000 customers lost power near Windsor Square, Larchmont Village, and Harvard Heights, according to the Department of Water and Power.

About 525 Southern California Edison customers lost power across the Southland, including more than 360 in Los Angeles County. Twenty customers in San Bernardino County lost power because of the wind, according to the utility.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for Los Angeles and Ventura counties that extends through the weekend, cautioning that the strong winds and temperatures up to 105 degrees would lead to a heightened risk of wildfires.

Because of a high pressure system building during the weekend, temperatures will bring “widespread” warmth, according to weather officials. 

Inland areas are expected to see highs of 90 to 100 by Sunday, while coastal mountains and valleys will see highs between 90 and 105, according to the National Weather Service.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno.

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