(CNS) – Fierce Santa Ana winds whipped up a sandstorm, flung numerous objects onto freeways and streets and created other hazards throughout the Inland Empire Monday.
According to the California Highway Patrol, about 8:30 a.m., a sandstorm severely reduced visibility on Interstate 10 and roadways around Indio.
As a safety precaution, the agency recommended that high-profile vehicles stay of off Coachella Valley roads altogether for the duration of the wicked gusts, which were clocked at 45 mph in and around Palm Springs International Airport about 10:25 a.m.
In the Riverside metropolitan area, where the windstorm began in earnest about 9 p.m. Sunday, with no letup into Monday morning, a range of objects landed on freeways and roads.
The CHP said that a ladder flew off a work truck on northbound Interstate 15 at Limonite Avenue in Jurupa Valley about 10 a.m., snarling traffic, with two lanes blocked.
A roadside sign came loose along northbound Interstate 215 at MLK Boulevard in Riverside shortly after 10 a.m., landing in the slow lane, forcing drivers to stop and go around it, the CHP said.
About 10:20 a.m., wires, possibly electrical lines, fell into the path of vehicles on Cedar Street, near Old Elsinore Road, in Mead Valley. No accidents or injuries were reported.
In the immediate vicinity of Riverside Municipal Airport, the pilot of a Boeing 767 reported “severe turbulence” at 5,000 feet just after 10 a.m., according to the Riverside Flight Service Station.
The airport was reporting wind speeds averaging 22 mph, gusting to 42 mph, at that time.
Despite the harsh winds, no significant power outages were reported in Riverside County by SoCal Edison.
The National Weather Service posted a high wind warning for the region that was set to expire at 4 p.m. Monday.
“North to northeast winds of 30 to 40 mph, with gusts of 50 to 70 mph (are possible),” the NWS said. “Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines.”
Several tightly bound dry low pressure systems were to blame for whipping up the powerful slipstream, according to surface analysis charts published by the weather service.
“Winds are expected to slowly weaken throughout the afternoon, with gusty winds becoming confined to below passes by this evening,” the NWS stated.
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