8:30am

Thu December 1, 2011
The Two-Way

'Monster Winds' Roar Across Utah

Originally published on Thu December 1, 2011 6:02 pm

The National Weather Service has clocked winds above 90 mph around Centerville, Utah, today — "monster winds" that are blowing with hurricane-force and have overturned semi-trailer rigs, toppled trees and knocked out power, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The newspaper adds that:

"High wind warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for northern Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and eastern Box Elder counties, as well as the western deserts, through Thursday night. Steady winds were being recorded in the 40-60 mph range, with gusts in excess of 80 mph.

"A winter storm warning — with snowfall of 10-18 inches predicted in some locales — was in effect for northeastern Utah from just north of Vernal, and running west to the Wasatch Mountains."

Randall Jeppesen of KSL News in Salt Lake City is posting updates and observations on his Twitter page. A sampling:

-- "My news truck just got hit by a chunk of debris... i'm not sure what it was but it was loud"

-- "two pieces of debris have now struck my truck. I'm seeing the metal roofing on a wendy's restaurant lifting up and flapping like a flag"

-- "I'm watching the roof on what is a manufactured home or trailer lift off the walls of the building"

-- "Now I know what it feels like to walk in hurricane force winds"

There are also wind warnings up in Nevada, as The Las Vegas Sun reports. And Southern California is being whipped as well: "Heavy Santa Ana winds were lashing Southern California before dawn Thursday morning, spreading fires and knocking down electrical wires, causing scattered blackouts," the Los Angeles Times says.

Our colleagues at KPCC say authorities in Southern California are preparing against the threat of wind-whipped fires.

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET: KPCC is now live-blogging the news and reports that the strong winds are expected to continue into Friday, with "gusts of 80 mph or greater through mountain passes and 60 mph or greater in coastal and valley locations."

Update at 4:58 p.m. ET. The Scene In Southern California:

NPR's Carrie Kahn send us this picture from Venice Beach in Southern California:

In her piece for All Things Considered, Carrie reports that this is worst windstorm to strike Southern California in 10 years. The damage has been similar across the area: big trees have toppled over gas stations and power lines.

Overnight, wind gusts reached 96 miles-per-hour. Carrie spoke to Rosa Loya in Pasadena.

"It sounded like a tornado last night it was so bad; it was terrible," said Loya.

The kids did get one piece of good news: Pasadena city officials have told everyone to stay indoors and they've cancelled school.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And I'm Guy Raz. High winds are battering much of the western U.S. today, and in many places, they're not expected to let up any time soon. In Southern California, gusts have reached nearly 100 miles per hour and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people overnight. Debris and tree limbs are everywhere, slowing traffic and forcing some schools to close. NPR's Carrie Kahn has our story from Pasadena, where some of the worst damage occurred.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Rosa Loya was still in a robe this afternoon, standing in the doorway of the small home she shares with her three children. She looked dazed as I made my way through the downed trees and debris that littered her Pasadena street. Several branches had snapped off and covered her lawn. Roof shingles were everywhere.

ROSA LOYA: It sounded like tornado last night. Oh, my God. It was so bad. It was terrible.

KAHN: Loya's kids didn't sleep much last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAT MEOWING)

KAHN: They say Tom the cat is agitated too.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAT MEOWING)

KAHN: City officials have asked all Pasadena residents to stay at home, and schools are closed. Loya's 19-year-old daughter Trisha, who goes to the local community college, says that's not too bad.

TRISHA: I get to sleep in and be with my family...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

TRISHA: ...but no TV and no electronics so that kind of sucks.

KAHN: The family lives at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. National Weather Service meteorologist Stuart Seto says wind gusts reached 96 miles per hour there.

STUART SETO: Winds that high would be hurricane-force winds. Hurricane-force winds start at 74 miles per hour.

KAHN: Seto says the high winds are caused by a low-pressure system over much of the state, but high wind warnings and advisories stretch from New Mexico all the way north to Utah. Businesses are shuttered all along Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard, the route of the annual Rose Parade. Tree branches, palm fronds and roof shingles are everywhere. Ed Perez and his wife Hazel ventured out of their house to see the damage after a long and noisy night.

ED PEREZ: It was crazy. It was unbelievable. Never experienced anything in my life ever before.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHAIN SAW)

KAHN: Across the street, they watch a crew removing a huge tree. It toppled over onto the canopy of a gas station. The metal roof is twisted and sideways on the ground. Two gas pumps are smashed. Worker Rogelio Ruiz stopped to talk as he pours more gas into his chain saw.

ROGELIO RUIZ: (Foreign language spoken)

KAHN: (Foreign language spoken)

RUIZ: (Foreign language spoken)

KAHN: He says he's been sawing away at the huge branches for more than two hours. Also in Pasadena, 40 people were evacuated from an apartment building after a tree smashed part of the roof. Four people were seriously injured at house fires probably caused by downed power lines. Damage wasn't limited to the foothills of Los Angeles. In Venice Beach, Ed and Rose Cherney were dealing with their own downed tree, which luckily fell away from their house and into one of the area's famous canals.

ED CHERNEY: We dodged the bullet. You know, it could have fallen and hurt somebody or fallen into our neighbor's house or our house.

ROSE CHERNEY: It's wild. I'm blown away. I'm so happy nobody got hurt.

KAHN: They say they can't get a hold of anyone with the city of Los Angeles for help. Rose Cherney says there's a bright side to the destruction, though.

CHERNEY: At least, I won't have crows in the morning anymore.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KAHN: This is the worst windstorm here in more than 10 years. These winds are cold, but that doesn't mean the fire danger is any less. Red flag high fire warnings have been issued throughout Southern California. They'll remain in effect through Friday. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Pasadena. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.