Scattered storms, lightning hit Southern California and prompt beach closures, Gov. Newsom’s call for help
Two powerful hurricanes left a trail of destruction across the Southern California coast on Thursday as the region braced itself for the oncoming onslaught.
The most destructive were felt in Santa Barbara County, as wind gusts as high as 100 mph caused a near-record-high tide that left a wide swath of beach open for the first time since the Great Storm of 1987.
While the Santa Cruz Island region, including Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, was spared from the worst of the storm, the area around the city of Santa Maria took a large hit from winds of 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
By midnight Thursday, the Santa Barbara County line was closed to pedestrians and cars. A sign posted on the beach warned motorists of the dangers of the high tide. Santa Maria, 30 miles south of Santa Barbara, was also in the path of the most powerful and frequent Atlantic hit.
“This is the biggest storm that has hit this coast in decades,” said Bill Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service says the Santa Barbara County heavy rains will taper off in the next 48 hours, but the winds will continue to rage.
San Diego Gas and Electric said it activated its emergency operations center at 11:30 a.m. “for the possible transmission failures from the hurricane or other reasons.”
The NWS called the storm a “major emergency” and advised of “an extreme risk of damage if the winds increase or any rainfall occurs.”
Gov. Jerry Brown called a news conference at 3 p.m. at City Hall in San Francisco to deliver a message to the public.
At noon Thursday, the governor declared a state of emergency statewide and asked the National Guard to assist state and local officials.
In a message to the public, Brown said, “I am asking you to be on the alert for debris, for traffic delays, for power outages, for problems with gas and water. This is a life and death situation.”
The governor advised residents to secure their hurricane shutters, not open windows, and not use generators and water heaters