LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- High surf pounded the coast and fierce winds howled across the Southland today, with gusts topping 70 mph whipping the Saugus area and 50 mph in Lancaster.
"Strong and gusty northwest to north winds will continue through late tonight," according to a National Weather Service advisory. "Winds will peak in strength this afternoon and evening. Damaging wind gusts to 80 mph are expected in many mountain locations, with wind gusts from 60 to 70 mph across the Antelope Valley, coastal sections of Santa Barbara County and the Santa Clarita Valley.
"These strong winds will likely cause power outages and possibly some property damage. Elsewhere, wind gusts of 35 to 50 mph will continue through tonight. Locally gusty but much weaker northerly winds are expected again on Tuesday."
The gusting winds kept local utility crews busy. By late afternoon, 5,036 Southern California Edison customers were without power, including more than 3,000 in the Norwalk area. Earlier in the day, SCE reported that more than 9,600 customers were without power.
According to the Department of Water and Power, a handful of customers in Pacoima and about 740 in Sylmar lost power due to the wind early this afternoon.
Edison had extra crews staged in critical areas such as the Santa Clarita Valley and the Banning Pass overnight last night and today, and the extra crews will be staged in the critical areas at least through 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Also, the utility's staff meteorologists have been monitoring the National Weather Service's warnings.
"If the winds do cause downed power lines and snapped poles, we will have crews nearby," Edison's Dan Chung said.
Chung urged people to stay away from downed lines, to keep their children away from the lines, and to notify authorities immediately if they see a problem.
The winds toppled trees across the Southland, including a pair near City Hall in downtown Los Angeles and another in the Valley Village area.
A high wind warning warning that had been in effect in the San Fernando Valley was lowered by the NWS to a wind advisory. The high wind warning remained in effect, however, for the Los Angeles County mountains, excluding the San Monica range, along with the Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley. The warnings will remain in effect until 6 a.m. Tuesday.
The less serious wind advisory will remain in place for the rest of the county.
Because of "extremely high winds and reduced visibility," the California Highway Patrol issued a wind advisory covering freeways and surface streets and recommended that motorists use caution.
Along the coast, a high surf advisory was in effect from the Central Coast to the Southland and scheduled to last through Tuesday morning.
"Storm-force and gale-force winds across the coastal waters will produce a large wind-driven swell from today through Tuesday morning," according to an NWS advisory. "This swell will come ashore and create high surf conditions through Tuesday morning."
In L.A. County, forecasters said they expect surf height of between seven and nine feet, with maximum sets to 11 feet.
"Large breakers will cause a high risk of rip currents, making swimming hazardous for anyone," according to an NWS advisory.