90-mph Santa Ana wind gusts close Interstate 8 to high-profile vehicles

Graphic shows how descending air heats up over Southern California
Santa Ana winds from the northeast disrupted traffic Thursday in San Diego County.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

Dry Santa Ana winds out of the northeast gusted to nearly 90 mph in the San Diego County mountains before dawn Thursday and were spreading toward the coast, where winds of 30-40 mph were possible, the National Weather Service said.

California Highway Patrol officers were taking high-profile vehicles off Interstate 8 at East Willows Road in Alpine and westbound vehicles off in the El Centro area.

Three big rigs were reported to have been blown over early Thursday near Crestwood, two westbound and one eastbound, according to CHP Officer Mark Latulippe. All traffic on westbound I-8 was being diverted off the freeway because of the crashes.


“The winds out east are considerable,” Latulippe said. “We are getting at the roadway level, 74 mph on the roadways. That’s pretty crazy.”

High winds tipped over big rigs and forced closure of a stretch of Interstate 8 to high-profile vehicles in San Diego County. (OnScene TV)

Just before 10 a.m., a big-rig loaded with gravel on northbound Interstate 15 south of the exit for West Bernardo Drive and Pomerado Road tipped over, spilling its load onto the slow lane. It was not clear if the incident was caused by gusty winds.

The winds are expected to increase in strength overnight and peak Thursday as “omega block” pushes colder air away from the Southland’s coastline.

Jan. 25, 2023

High winds also caused some trees to topple. In San Diego’s Balboa Park, a tree fell onto a woman, sending her to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The tree — an 80- to 90-foot eucalyptus — was uprooted by the winds and fell just before 8 a.m. near the intersection of Balboa Drive and El Prado, according to San Diego police. The woman was pinned under the tree. She was conscious and complained of pain to her hand and head and was taken to a hospital, police said.

The windstorm is expected to peak around noon and it could affect play at the Farmers Insurance Open professional golf tournament at Torrey Pines. The winds also could shake commercial jetliners at San Diego International Airport.


In anticipation of the high winds, schools in the Mountain Empire Unified School District in East County closed Thursday, according to the county Office of Education. Students in the rural district rely heavily on buses for transportation.

Through 8 a.m., the weather service had recorded gusts of 88 mph at Sill Hill in the Cuyamac Mountains, 81 mph at Laguna Launch, an area near Mount Laguna, 79 mph at Mount Laguna, 79 mph at Crestwood, 73 mph at Palomar Mountain, 69 mph on Sunrise Highway, 58 mph at Descanso and 52 mph at Julian.

Where do Santa Ana winds come from and how did they get their name? And how does the O.C. city of Santa Ana feel about it?

Sept. 28, 2021

The Santa Anas will be followed this weekend by a modest storm that will drop about a quarter-inch of rain at the coast and half an inch across inland valleys and foothills and 1 inch in the mountains. The system will last from late Sunday into Tuesday morning.

The storm is composed of very cold air from Canada that will prevent daytime high temperatures from rising above the mid-to-upper 50s Sunday through Tuesday at the coast and the low 50s across inland valleys. Temperatures could drop into the 30s at the coast on Tuesday night.

City News Service contributed to this report.