Santa Ana winds have roared to life across inland San Diego County, reaching 88 mph early Thursday at Sill Hill in Descanso and 60 mph or higher along Interstate 8 in the East County.
SDG&E said it had cut power to about 8,300 customers across a wide area of East County, including parts of Descanso, Pine Hills, and Buckman Springs as well as North County communities such as Valley Center, Santa Ysabel and Palomar Mountain.
SDG&E officials said an additional 1,000 customers are without power due to conditions such as high winds.
The American Red Cross has opened emergency shelters to support residents impacted by power outages. The shelters are located at Bostonia Park & Recreation Center in El Cajon, and at the East Valley Community Center in Escondido.
By mid-morning, gusty winds were creating problems on area freeways and roads, knocking down trees and threatening high-profile vehicles such as RVs and big rigs.
Shortly after 10:45 a.m., a tree fell onto the westbound lanes of Interstate 8 west of the Lake Murray/70th Street exit and it was blocking all but the fast lane, the CHP said.
Those lanes were reopened shortly after noon, said CHP Officer Mary Bailey.
About an hour earlier, a 38-foot-long fifth-wheel trailer was blown over by the wind on Interstate 8 at Japatul Valley Road.
Winds gusted to 64 mph at Boulder Hills, 61 mph at Crestwood and 55 mph at Sunrise Highway, and 52 at Fallbrook. At the same time, the relative humidity is less than 10 percent across much of inland San Diego County.
So far, there have been no big fires in San Diego County. A tiny brush fire in Mission Hills was quickly extinguished shortly after 6 a.m. by firefighters and a helicopter that made a water drop. Another small fire that blackened a brushy area in a Mira Mesa park was quickly doused shortly before 11 a.m.
Just before 11:30 a.m., a brush fire broke out at southbound Interstate 15 and state Route 76.
San Diego Gas & Electric notified about 170,000 of its customers on Wednesday that they could lose power due to the winds, which will last into late Thursday.
By 6 a.m. Thursday, the utility had turned off the power to thousands of customers in parts of East County and North County. The utility placed a generator in Julian to cutdown on the number of potential outages.
Through early Thursday, the outages have affected residents in West Descanso, Viejas, Boulder Creek, Live Oak Springs, Boulevard, Jucumba, Japatul Valley, Buckman Springs and Morena Valley, Santa Ysabel, Wynola, and Pine Hills, Valley Center, Rincon, Pauma Valley, La Jolla Indian Reservation, Hellhole Canyon, La Jolla Indian Reservation, Mesa Grande, Santa Ysabel, Palomar Mountain and Lake Henshaw. The outages, which will last until at least 4 p.m. Thursday, currently affect about 800 customers.