Santa Ana winds uproot trees, cause park closures

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Fierce Santa Ana winds battered much of the region today, prompting a weather warning at San Diego International Airport, making driving treacherous for big rigs and even toppling a tree that fell on a woman in Balboa Park.

Forecasters called for peak gusts of 30 to 40 mph along the San Diego coast Thursday, but gusts of up to 70 mph were expected to continue into theafternoon in the mountains, with some higher wind speeds possible in passes and canyons.

According to the National Weather Service, some mountains and passes saw winds topping 80 mph Thursday morning, with Riverside County recording at least one gust of 92 mph.

“There have been numerous reports of overturned high profile vehicles through the mountain pass highways, as well as uprooted trees,” according
to the National Weather Service, which advised caution for motorists, particularly on Interstate 8 in the San Diego County mountains.

“Winds will be strong and widespread across SoCal, even outside of the typically windy locations,” forecasters said.

Around 8 a.m., the winds toppled a roughly 80- to 90-foot-tall eucalyptus tree in Balboa Park, pinning a woman on the ground who had to be treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. By midday, authorities were actively clearing people out of the park due to the danger of more trees being felled by the wind.

Portions of Interstate 8 also had to be closed in Campo and Alpine, where several big rigs overturned.

Forecasters said the winds “will drop off rather quickly this evening and tonight,” but breezy conditions will stretch into Friday morning, when temperatures should warm slightly.

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