Ferocious winds wreak havoc in California, knocking out power to thousands and fanning wildfires

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
·2 min read

Strong winds continued in portions of California on Wednesday, a day after they fanned wildfires, toppled trees and semis, and knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers.

More than 70,000 homes and businesses remained without power as of 5:30 p.m. PST Wednesday morning, according to poweroutage.us. That was down from more than 270,000 on Tuesday, Weather.com said.

Utility companies also preemptively shut off power to thousands of customers to reduce the risk of fires.

Strong winds and a fire weather threat will continue through Wednesday in southern California, with improving conditions by Wednesday night, the National Weather Service said.

As the winds slackened in northern California late Tuesday, firefighters were able to gain the upper hand on beating back the blazes.

A car drives under a tree toppled by wind in Ventura, California, on January 19, 2021. The tree injured two when it landed on a passing vehicle along highway 126.
A car drives under a tree toppled by wind in Ventura, California, on January 19, 2021. The tree injured two when it landed on a passing vehicle along highway 126.

South of San Francisco, the state’s firefighting agency said it responded to 13 vegetation fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties in 12 hours, and isolated evacuations were ordered for a total of 120 homes near two of them.

The fires were small, with the largest no more than a few dozen acres, and by nightfall were “creeping” rather than racing, according to state fire website descriptions.

Yosemite National Park closed for the day Tuesday, citing the winds and downed trees that smashed trucks and at least one building. The park said it could remain closed until Friday morning.

As winds grew stronger in Southern California, several semi-tractor trailers overturned, Weather.com said. The weather service said winds were gusting at 50 to 60 mph.

The storm responsible for the wind also led to large waves along the state's coast. One wave swept a 12-year-old boy out to sea on Monday evening, KGO reported. The U.S. Coast Guard announced Tuesday it was suspending the search for the boy, KRON reported.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California winds fan wildfires, knock out power to thousands