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Fatality from falling tree in El Niño storm called 'unimaginable'

Southern California was cleaning up Monday after El Niño-driven winds caused damage, power outages and the death of one person.

Wind gusts of more than 100 mph were clocked in several places in Los Angeles County on Sunday, leaving thousands without power and blocking roads with debris.

The winds were strong enough to uproot an 80-foot-tall tree in in San Diego's Pacific Beach neighborhood that crushed three parked cars and one passing by on Ingraham Street near Fortuna Avenue, fatally injuring a person in the moving car.

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San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Capt. Joe Amador called the incident “unimaginable,” noting that the car could have easily missed the falling tree.

“Even five seconds one way or the other and this wouldn't have happened,” Amador said. “Our thoughts and hearts are with the family. We're in the life-saving business and it's hard when it doesn’t turn out that way.”

For Monday, a wind advisory remains in effect until noon for valley areas. Snow levels will drop to the 2,000-2,500 foot level, and there will be a high surf warning through Tuesday for beaches in L.A. and Orange counties, forecasters say.

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Lyndsay Winkley writes for the San Diego Union Tribune.

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