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Winds up to 89 mph leave 55K people without power in Southern California

    A Los Angeles Department of Transportation worker tends to a fallen traffic light that was blown down by heavy winds in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015.

LOS ANGELES » Powerful Santa Ana winds with gusts topping 89 mph toppled trees and power poles in Southern California on Saturday, leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said more than 54,000 customers — mostly in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles — lost power shortly after 3 a.m. The winds downed a large billboard in Burbank, and knocked a large tree into the kitchen of a house in Van Nuys.

Scattered outages left 1,700 Southern California Edison customers without power in Fontana and Ontario east of Los Angeles.

The National Weather Service says a gauge in the mountains near Julian in San Diego County registered a gust of 89 mph at 7:30 a.m. An 82 mph wind gust was recorded in the Malibu hills Saturday afternoon.

The winds kicked up Friday night and were expected to die down later Saturday.

A high-pressure ridge caused record-breaking highs in several cities. Newport Beach had a high of 80 — one degree hotter than the 1990 record.

Laguna Beach’s 82 tied a 1968 record. Santa Maria’s 82 tied a 1935 record.

The Santa Anas are generated during cooler months when westward currents reach fierce speeds as they squeeze through Southern California mountain ranges, lowering humidity and making vegetation susceptible to fire.

Meanwhile, a high-surf advisory warning of up to 11-foot-high surf was in effect through Sunday. Authorities said the winds blew two kayakers out to sea off the coast of Malibu. They were reported missing for about an hour before Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguards helped them paddle back to shore.

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