SoCal wind: Hundreds of thousands still without power

Atwater damage

Alex Cohen/KPCC

A downed tree damaged three cars and ripped up pavement on Glenhurst Ave in Atwater Village, Calif. Neighbors said it was diseased, and they had been calling the city for years to get it removed, to no avail.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses remained without power in the Greater Los Angeles area today, and thousands of students stayed home for the second straight day, but the windstorm that disrupted thousands of lives died down -- hours earlier than expected.

Some of the areas hit hardest by outages overnight were Arcadia, Altadena and Temple City, said Lois Pitter Bryce, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) reports approximately 67,000 of its 1.4 million electric customers were still without power this morning as of 10 a.m. Highland Park, Glassell Park, El Sereno and Cypress Park have the highest number of customers without power, said Joseph Ramallo from the department.

As of 10 a.m. Glassell Park had 11,800 people still affected by outages and Cypress Park had 10,2000. The number of Westside residents affected has continued to dwindle; Venice now has 1,400 people with no electricity and Westchester has 2,100.

Since the windstorm began, power has been restored to more than 145,000 customers, according to LADWP. However, those who remain with their power out may have to wait at least 24 to 48 hours until electricity returns.

134 LADWP Power system crews are currently working across the city on over 500 separate outage incidents to restore power.

Just how disruptive the windstorm has turned out to be was illustrated by the Los Angeles Fire Department, which reported that the number of incidents it responded to more than double Thursday. They tackled 2,197 incidents during the 24-hour period ending at 11:59 p.m. Thursday compared to 1,022 incidents during a normal day.

Reports of wind damage continue to trickle in from throughout the greater L.A. area. In Pasadena the windstorm toppled or severely damaged nearly 450 trees and 200 buildings, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports.

"We are thankful that, as serious as the storm was, and as much damage as it left in its wake, there was no loss of life," Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck said, adding that cleanup could take several weeks in his city, which appeared to have been particularly hard-hit.

Pasadena was one of several cities to declare a local emergency Thursday. L.A. County also declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon.

One example of the damage caused by the wind: A 70-foot eucalyptus tree snapped and fell into a large crucifix memorial to the Tongva Indians and Claretian priests at the San Gabriel Mission Cemetery. A life-size image of Jesus nailed to the huge wooden cross had been there since 1935, according to cemetery spokesman Chuck Lyons.

A cold low-pressure system over Arizona Friday will continue to churn up strong north-to-northeast offshore winds, which will again buffet Los Angeles and Ventura counties, peaking this morning during the post-dawn hours, the National Weather Service said.

The "peak" period should involve winds blowing at sustained speeds of between 20 and 40 miles per hour, gusting to between 60 and 70 mph in some areas, forecasters said.

Although winds should weaken by Friday evening, the potential exists for more gusty northwest winds Saturday afternoon into Sunday over Los Angeles and Ventura counties, according to a National Weather Service advisory.

Because of the high winds and low humidity levels, a red flag warning noting a high risk of wildfire will remain in effect for most of the day, expiring at 3 p.m. in most areas but remaining in effect until 6 p.m. in the San Gabriel mountains and the Angeles National Forest. A less serious fire weather watch will go into effect Saturday afternoon and remain in force through Sunday afternoon, the weather service said.

With contributions by The Associated Press

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