Southern California winds topple trees, power lines

Powerful Santa Ana winds with gusts topping 89 mph toppled trees and power poles in Southern California on Saturday, leaving several thousand people without electricity.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said about 23,000 customers were without electricity in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. The winds downed a large billboard in Burbank, and knocked a large tree into the kitchen of a house in Van Nuys.

Scattered outages were also reported in Fontana and parts of San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles.

The National Weather Service says a gauge in the mountains near Julian in San Diego County registered a gust of 89 mph at 7:30 a.m.

The winds kicked up Friday night and were expected to die down later Saturday.

A high-pressure ridge caused record-breaking highs in several cities. Newport Beach had a high of 80 -- one degree hotter than the 1990 record.

Laguna Beach's 82 tied a 1968 record. Santa Maria's 82 tied a 1935 record.

The Santa Anas are generated during cooler months when westward currents reach fierce speeds as they squeeze through Southern California mountain ranges, lowering humidity and making vegetation susceptible to fire.

Meanwhile, a high-surf advisory warning of up to 11-foot-high surf was in effect through Sunday. Authorities said the winds blew two kayakers out to sea off the coast of Malibu. Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguards launched a search for the missing kayakers around noon Saturday, and helped them paddle back to shore about an hour later.
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