The National Weather Service warned on Thursday that a combination of Santa Ana winds and dry conditions will bring fire danger in Southern California.
The warning came as powerful winds hit the region overnight, toppling trees, causing a transformer to explode and — at one point– leaving thousands without power.
Strong winds were forecast to continue through Friday, with the strongest gusts expected in the mountain areas of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties, through and below the Cajon Pass, and into the Orange County coastal plain, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters warned of gusts of up to 50 mph Thursday and 60 mph tonight through Friday in mountain areas.
Meanwhile, moderate Santa Ana winds were expected over portions of Southern California into Friday afternoon, but locally breezy conditions will stay around until Saturday, federal forecasters said.
A wind advisory has been issued by the weather service, and was scheduled to expire at 5 p.m. Friday.
Amid the “elevated fire weather,” forecasters expressed concern that the combination of winds and dry conditions could create a brief period of critical fire weather on Friday, between the late morning and early afternoon.
A wind-driven brush fire in the Santa Barbara area had already burned 25 acres west of Montecito Peak by 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the Montecito Fire Protection District. No evacuations were immediately ordered, but an evacuation warning was in effect.
In addition to increased fire danger, other potential impacts included hazardous crosswinds for drivers of high profile vehicles, and downed trees and power lines.
By Thursday morning, the powerful winds were already blamed for toppling trees that damaged cars in one South Los Angeles neighborhood, and power outages that left thousands of residents without electricity in Manhattan Beach overnight.
Severe wind forced the Chantry area to close in the Angeles National Forest Thursday, according to the Sierra Madre Police Department.
Bailey Canyon and Mt. Wilson Trail had to be closed due to fallen debris, the Police Department stated.
A transformer also exploded in East Hollywood overnight, leaving a number of residents in the immediate area without power.