Toppled scaffolding, canceled beach festival, brush fires: Strong winds stir trouble for SoCal

Onlookers check out a large tree that has fallen onto three vehicles.
Onlookers check out a large tree that has fallen onto three vehicles, blocking westbound traffic on Washington Place during a blustery afternoon in Mar Vista on Sunday.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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Late spring winds whipped through Southern California over the weekend and fanned multiple brush fires while also dashing the hopes of music festival-goers in Redondo Beach.

The forecast for Monday and Tuesday promises to bring more strong gusts in smaller pockets of the region. That includes the Interstate 5 corridor near the Grapevine and parts of Santa Barbara, according to the National Weather Service, with projected gusts reaching 40 mph to 50 mph in the evening.

The Antelope Valley is also expected to receive wind gusts up to 30 or 40 mph around the same time, forecasts show.


A storm system brought cooler temperatures and light rain alongside the formidable wind gusts to the region, starting Saturday. While the winds were nothing to sneeze at, the gusts are common in late spring.

“It was a pretty good wind event, but it wasn’t what I would call record-breaking,” meteorologist David Gomberg with the National Weather Service in Oxnard said.

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Gusts reached 68 mph at a weather station in the mountains east of the Cajon Pass, 55 mph in Santa Barbara Island and 53 mph in Montecito Hills north of Santa Barbara over a 24-hour period starting Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

The widespread winds arrived with the weak storm front that passed through the region, Gomberg said.

The timing was unfortunate for fans of My Morning Jacket and Courtney Barnett, whose performances at the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach were canceled along with the rest of the event’s third day due to the “serious wind event that put the general public at risk,” organizers said in a Facebook post. Fans were able to attend shows on Friday and Saturday, where Sting and Incubus were among the performers.

“While we take extraordinary measures to keep our fans, staff and artists safe, and while absolutely none of our engineered structures or systems failed, winds quickly reached very dangerous speeds and we put safety first,” organizers said in their post.


The wind did not discriminate with its ruination.

Strong winds toppled a scaffolding four to five stories tall onto a set of power lines in the 1000 block of North St. Andrews Place in Hollywood on Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The scaffolding was erected against a building, but was swept out by the wind around 2 p.m., forcing emergency responders to divert traffic and pedestrians away from area.

There were no reported injuries as firefighters responded to the scene, and no one was on the scaffolding during the incident, according to the fire department.

Campus police and Los Angeles Police Department officers arrived at USC early Sunday morning to clear the camp.

May 5, 2024

LAFD firefighters also had to respond to a quarter-acre brush fire fanned by persistent winds in North Hollywood shortly before 3 p.m. near the 170 Freeway at Burbank Boulevard. Firefighters were able to contain and put out the fire within 25 minutes, LAFD said.

Roughly 30 minutes later, firefighters responded to reports of a brush fire in the Sepulveda Basin in the 6100 block of North Woodley Avenue. Dry vegetation burned near an archery range, forcing employees and customers to temporarily leave the area; firefighters put out the blaze in about 70 minutes, LAFD said in a news alert. The flames were fanned by wind gusts of 20 mph to 30 mph, according to the fire department.

Starting Wednesday, Southern California will see a light offshore event that will bring north and northeast winds to Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The winds will bring “very light and breezy conditions,” Gomberg said. Those winds will be coupled with decreased humidity and warmer temperatures, but thanks to the recent rains, vegetation in the region should not become too much of a fire hazard, he said.


Southern Californians are not the only ones who will be battling headwinds. The National Weather Service in Sacramento cautions drivers that gusty winds are expected to kick up starting Tuesday from Vacaville north to Redding, with a high probability for wind gusts to reach 40 mph.

No matter where drivers are heading during strong wind events, Gomberg said, they should be on the lookout for downed branches, fallen power lines and other wind-blown hazards in their general surroundings.