Windy spring storm sweeps through Calif., Arizona

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm •  Published: April 8, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Powerful winds raked much of California on Monday, toppling trees, spreading wildfires, causing scattered power outages, whipping up blinding dust storms, and sending waves crashing ashore as a vigorous spring weather system swept through the state on its way across the West.

Rising winds were reported in Arizona, where 34 miles of Interstate 40 near Winslow were closed to traffic.

In Phoenix, blowing dust obscured the mountains surrounding the city, and at least four people were injured in a pileup when two semi-trucks jackknifed in a dust storm on I-10 in southern Arizona. The injuries were not life-threatening.

New Mexico was expected to start feeling the impact late Monday, and in Colorado, the blustery system was expected to bring up to 2 feet of snow.

Northern California was first to feel the lashing blasts, which spread to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

At least a dozen trees came down in San Francisco, police officer John Tozzini told KGO-TV, which reported that more than 20,000 utility customers lost power in the region. A swath of electrical outages occurred across the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The wind sent a tree smashing into a Sacramento home where four friends were playing cards, but they didn't stop the game, according to KCRA-TV.

"It could've been worse," said Dodie Backus, who lives in the house.

"It's not going to stop our bridge game," said her game partner, Marilyn Baker.

The northwest-to-north winds were punctuated with gusts topping 80 mph at some Southern California points.

The blustery system was being fueled by a cold front.

"It's just a cold, really strong upper low," said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif.

Whitecaps flecked the Pacific Ocean along the California coast, where gale warnings and small craft advisories were posted. Recreational boaters were warned to stay in port. Wind-driven swells slapped over the tops of breakwaters and turned waves into a churning froth under piers at points such as Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach on the Los Angeles County coast.

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