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Fierce Santa Anas prompt wind warning for L.A. County mountains

Santa Ana winds whip the hair of two people at Griffith Observatory in January.
Santa Ana winds whip the hair of Hannah Ericsson, left, and Jessie Ng at Griffith Observatory on Jan. 21. A new round of Santa Anas is expected to continue on and off through the weekend across Southern California.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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Southern California is in for another blustery round of Santa Ana winds that have the potential to down trees and spur power outages.

The cold winds blowing from the north and northeast are expected to peak Wednesday night and continue gusting through the weekend, according to officials with the National Weather Service.

“When we don’t get rain in February, we often get wind,” the weather service’s Los Angeles station said in a tweet.

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Los Angeles County mountains will be particularly hard-hit, with gale-force winds expected to reach 60 mph and isolated gusts up to 70 mph. A wind warning for the mountain areas is in place until noon Thursday.

Advisories are in place during the same time for valley areas, where winds will be slightly less forceful. The Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys could see gusts up to 50 mph, and winds in the San Gabriel Valley are expected to reach 35 mph.

The coastal areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties are also under an advisory, and weather officials said the region between Malibu and the Hollywood Hills will be especially windblown. Winds are predicted from 15 to 25 mph there, with gusts up to 40 mph.

Gusty winds could make driving difficult on the 101 Freeway and Pacific Coast Highway, particularly for those driving high-profile vehicles, weather officials said.

Winds could also kick up dust in Orange and San Bernardino counties, leading to air quality that’s deemed unhealthy or worse for sensitive groups, weather officials said.

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A windblown dust advisory will remain in place in those areas through Thursday, and residents are cautioned to remain indoors, keeping doors and windows closed and limiting physical activity.

In Riverside County, high winds brought down a pine tree onto a two-story California Baptist University dormitory around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Three students were inside the dorm at the time but were uninjured, said Battalion Chief Mike Allen of the Riverside Fire Department.

The Press-Enterprise reported that the 92-foot “Great Tree” damaged the building’s roof, support pillars, windows and walkway.

Seventeen students were displaced, Allen said, and the university will provide them housing assistance and other resources.

By Wednesday evening, winds had picked up across Southern California. A weather station in the Ventura County mountains recorded speeds up to 59 mph, and gusts near the Magic Mountain Truck Trail in L.A. County reached 77 mph.

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Winds will probably remain strong through Thursday morning, said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Oxnard station.

Friday “also looks windy,” he said, and there could be additional advisories, “but I don’t think it’s going to be quite as strong.”

Temperatures are expected to remain cool before warming to above normal over the weekend, weather officials said.

Though often associated with warm, dry air, Santa Anas can shuttle in cold air from inland areas.

Cold air blowing from the east will drive down temperatures over the next few days, affecting inland areas more than the coast, Sweet said.

Times staff writer Christian Martinez contributed to this report.

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