'Monster Winds' Roar Across Utah; California Also Whipped

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The National Weather Service has clocked winds above 90 mph around Centerville, Utah, today — "monster winds" that are blowing with hurricane-force and have overturned semi-trailer rigs, toppled trees and knocked out power, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The newspaper adds that:

"High wind warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for northern Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and eastern Box Elder counties, as well as the western deserts, through Thursday night. Steady winds were being recorded in the 40-60 mph range, with gusts in excess of 80 mph.

"A winter storm warning — with snowfall of 10-18 inches predicted in some locales — was in effect for northeastern Utah from just north of Vernal, and running west to the Wasatch Mountains."

Randall Jeppesen of KSL News in Salt Lake City is posting updates and observations on his Twitter page. A sampling:

-- "My news truck just got hit by a chunk of debris... i'm not sure what it was but it was loud"

-- "two pieces of debris have now struck my truck. I'm seeing the metal roofing on a wendy's restaurant lifting up and flapping like a flag"

-- "I'm watching the roof on what is a manufactured home or trailer lift off the walls of the building"

-- "Now I know what it feels like to walk in hurricane force winds"

There are also wind warnings up in Nevada, as The Las Vegas Sun reports. And Southern California is being whipped as well: "Heavy Santa Ana winds were lashing Southern California before dawn Thursday morning, spreading fires and knocking down electrical wires, causing scattered blackouts," the Los Angeles Times says.

Our colleagues at KPCC say authorities in Southern California are preparing against the threat of wind-whipped fires.

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET: KPCC is now live-blogging the news and reports that the strong winds are expected to continue into Friday, with "gusts of 80 mph or greater through mountain passes and 60 mph or greater in coastal and valley locations."

Update at 4:58 p.m. ET. The Scene In Southern California:

NPR's Carrie Kahn send us this picture from Venice Beach in Southern California:

In her piece for All Things Considered, Carrie reports that this is worst windstorm to strike Southern California in 10 years. The damage has been similar across the area: big trees have toppled over gas stations and power lines.

Overnight, wind gusts reached 96 miles-per-hour. Carrie spoke to Rosa Loya in Pasadena.

"It sounded like a tornado last night it was so bad; it was terrible," said Loya.

The kids did get one piece of good news: Pasadena city officials have told everyone to stay indoors and they've cancelled school.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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