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Powerful Santa Ana winds topple trees, trucks

December 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The Santa Ana winds rolled in again for another round of blustery conditions across Southern California on Thursday.

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A high-wind warning was in effect across most of Southern California, including the coastal areas, valleys and mountains, through 1 p.m. Friday.

Some areas could see winds of up to 60 mph. The Newhall Pass saw winds hit 53 mph and the Malibu Hills saw 52 mph gusts.

The wind picked up steam overnight in the Inland Empire, howling fiercely near the Cajon Pass along the 15 Freeway.

The California Highway Patrol urged drivers, especially those with high-profile vehicles and motorcyclists, to use caution or avoid the area.

High winds knocked over two tractor-trailers in Fontana in the morning. A FedEx truck overturned on the transition from the 210 Freeway to the northbound 15 Freeway. Another truck flipped on the transition to the southbound 15 Freeway.

Crews worked to clean up a fuel spill and dozens of palettes that fell off the back of a truck. There was damage to the guardrail, but the driver was expected to be OK.

As of 5 p.m., Southern California Edison said winds knocked out power to 480 customers in Garden Grove, 326 in Stanton, 110 in San Bernardino and 36 in Tustin.

They said they were working to restore power by 6 a.m. Friday.

Whether trying to ride a bicycle or working outdoors, the gusty winds were a struggle for many.

"All I need it my hoodie and my ChapStick," said Craig Marshall, who was working outside in Fontana. "That's all we can do. A sign already flew off and almost hit us."

There was plenty of minor damage across Fontana, including blown over trash cans, knocked over holiday decorations and broken fences.

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"It's been like this all day, and it's just hard to stand up out here," said Fontana resident Chad Duncan. "You got sand blowing in your eyes, and I don't think it's letting up anytime today."

The wind was also blowing hard in Glendale, where a 40-foot pine tree fell at Burritt Way and New York Avenue.

As the tree stood slanted, officials evacuated people in six houses to make sure no one was hurt.

No one was injured, but fire authorities told neighbors that a gas line was broken when the tree fell. They said it was quickly capped.

In Santa Clarita, wind speeds grew right around sunrise, making for blustery morning for drivers trekking the Newhall Pass. Strong gusts pushed cars and trucks, forcing many drivers to hold on tight to their steering wheels.

"It is bad. I see trucks, I see all kinds of vehicles going all over the road," said motorist Jess Ahumada. "I passed an accident near the 210 and 15 where a car went right into the side of a semi."

The gusty Santa Ana winds will be blowing through Friday, making holiday driving treacherous for some.

It can also mean more tree damage, which is the last thing residents in the San Gabriel Valley want to deal with.

Many are still cleaning up from last month's monster wind storm. Downed trees and branches left hundreds and thousands of residents without power for days.

See photos of the wild weather that hit Southern California on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011.

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