Yesterday, Los Angeles residents awoke to massive power outages, downed trees and extensive roof damage. Beginning on late Wednesday afternoon, a powerful windstorm with gale-force gusts began ripping through the region, with some gusts over 70 mph. The wind blew power lines down and more than 350,000 customers were without power.

Large trees toppled cars and roofs causing extensive damage. The wind has also blown off parts of roofs of many structures. Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency, a move that hastens the ability of state and federal authorities to provide assistance.

Forty-two damaged houses and apartment units were declared unsafe for habitation by early afternoon in Pasadena alone. A service station in Pasadena was demolished by a large uprooted tree.

Wind gusts stronger than 140 mph — which would be equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane — have been measured on the Sierra Crest mountain ridge, according to the National Weather Service.
Lower-lying areas also have been hit hard by Santa Ana winds, with 80 mph gusts. Some of the strongest gusts were measured:

  • 94 mph, Mt. Elizabeth near Sonora
  • 106 mph, Grey Butte, near Mt. Shasta
  • 97 mph, Whitaker Peak, near Castaic Lake
  • 72 mph, San Rafael Hills, near Glendale
  • 83 mph, Acton

Although Santa Ana winds are common, wind gusts of this magnitude are not. Some damage may be subtle and require an examination by professional roofer or contractor to find. In his post, The Science of Roof Damage Claims Caused by Wind, Chip Merlin explained the importance of understanding the subtle damage to roofs and structures that can be caused by wind.

Damage should be reported to your insurance company immediately. Document damage, mitigation efforts and repairs with receipts, work repair estimates and photos.

Many businesses across Southern California may have business interruption claims that arise from the power outages caused from these unusually strong Santa Anas. Michelle Claverol details the ins and outs of Utility Service Interruption Coverage in her post, Service Interruption Coverage May Help Connecticut Businesses Get Ready for the Holiday Season – Understanding Business Interruption Coverage, Part 96.

This kind of widespread wind damage does not occur often in Southern California, and it brings a reminder that Southern California is well into our fire season.