Strong Santa Ana winds return to SoCal

Strong Santa Ana winds again blasted parts of the Southland Wednesday, and they will likely persist into Thursday morning -- with the most severe being experienced in the L.A. County Mountains.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for the affected areas of the L.A. mountains, and it will be in effect through noon Thursday. The forecast in the mountains called for northeast winds of 35 mph to 45 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph -- as high as 70 mph in particularly wind-prone areas.

The NWS reported a gust that topped 80 mph Wednesday morning at the Magic Mountain Truck Trail.

Students at one of Cal Baptist University’s dorms were startled with what many thought was an earthquake but was actually a tree falling on top of the building. 

Riverside Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Vanderhorst said that an engine crew and truck company were sent to the location and found the large pine snapped in two, with more than half of the conifer laying on the side of the dorm. Firefighters checked for students possibly hurt or trapped, but all occupants were fine, according to Vanderhorst.

School officials say damage temporarily displaced 20 students, but the university is taking care of their shelter.

Northeast winds were gusting up to 40 mph at the time of the incident. There was no word regarding the age of the tree, which may have been weakened by the two previous Santa Ana windstorms. 

No reports of damage or major power outages were reported in the area. 

Meanwhile, less-severe high wind advisories will be in place through noon Thursday for the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys, the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, the L.A. County coast and downtown L.A.

A wind advisory was also in place for Orange County inland areas, continuing through noon Thursday, with northeast winds 15 mph to 25 mph and gusts to 40 mph in the forecast.

In addition, the South Coast Air Quality Management District on Tuesday issued a dust advisory through Thursday morning for portions of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The AQMD said the high winds may lead to air quality conditions that are unhealthy for sensitive groups. The most impacted areas will be Orange County, along with parts of the Inland Empire, the Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County, the AQMD said.

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According to the weather service, weaker winds could linger into Friday, followed by a brief break Saturday before another Santa Ana pattern develops for Sunday and Monday.

"We are in a very consistent Santa Ana wind pattern that will last well into next week," according to the NWS. "Wind peaks will occur today (Wednesday), Friday, Sunday and next Wednesday with breezy but lighter winds the other days."

The wind alerts brought with them warnings that unsecured objects could be blown around, tree limbs could topple and some power outages may result.

In addition, travel could be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles, the NWS said. Major roadways that could be particularly impacted include Interstate 5 and Highway 14.

Forecasters said there is "no precipitation in sight" for the Southland, with temperatures increasing gradually over the course of the week, reaching the lower 80s in some areas by early next week.

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