SoCal Wind Storm Kills 2 in Car Accident; Power Cut to Tens of Thousands of Customers

A major wind storm has blacked out thousands of customers, boosted the danger of wildfires and whipped up a dust storm linked to two deaths.

Strong Santa Ana wind is customary in Southern California in December and February, but this storm, which was continuing Saturday, is one of the fiercest in years, meteorologists said. Gusts to 62 mph were reported late Friday in the Malibu hills, and wind was measured at more than 80 mph in some mountain passes.

The National Weather Service declared a red flag warning for fire danger because of the wind and the Los Angeles County Fire Department stationed 100 additional firefighters in vulnerable areas.

A minivan hit a tour bus during a dust storm Friday near Barstow, killing a 56-year-old woman and her 13-year-old grandson, said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Arnswald. Several others were injured in the multivehicle wreck.

"When I came through (after the crash), the visibility was nonexistent. There was just sand everywhere," Arnswald said. "I had been there just 20 minutes earlier, and there was no sand and everything was clear."

The wind also downed scores of trees and utility lines, knocking out electrical service Friday to more than 100,000 homes and businesses.