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Southern California’s Santa Ana winds topple trees, big rigs

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Powerful Santa Ana winds tore across Southern California on Thursday — topping 100 mph, (160 kph) in parts — blowing over multiple big rigs on several highways and toppling massive 80-to-100 foot-tall trees, including in San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park where a woman was briefly pinned by a eucalyptus.

Gusts hit 112 mph (180 kph) in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles and more than 90 mph (145 kph) near Julian in the San Diego County mountains and near Banning Pass in Riverside County, the National Weather Service said.

Multiple trucks were reported blown over on the region’s highways from San Diego to the Los Angeles area. In San Diego County, the California Highway Patrol shut down sections of Interstate 8 after several rigs flipped on their sides, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Police said a 30-year-old woman was struck by a eucalyptus tree in Balboa Park shortly before 8 a.m., and pinned under it briefly. She was taken to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The city of San Diego later closed the 1,200-acre (486-hectare) park after at least two dozen trees were blown down in and around the area, blocking streets and walkways. A golf course, another park and a lake area were also closed.

In a San Diego suburb, three trees fell, blocking the front door of a townhome, where firefighters helped a woman crawl out a window to escape. Two of the trees fell on garages, and at least one car was damaged, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“The winds are knocking down trees everywhere — on top of apartments, cars and people,” Jose Ysea, a spokesperson for the city of San Diego told the newspaper. “It’s hard to keep up with.”

Thousands were without power, according to San Diego Gas & Electric.

Wind-blown dust triggered an air quality alert from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Small craft advisories were posted for coastal waters.

High wind warnings and advisories were to remain in effect until late in the day, giving way to mild weather.

“Pretty much a Chamber of Commerce day Friday,” the Los Angeles-region weather office said.