MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. — Winds of up to 100 m.p.h. howled through the High Sierra on Wednesday, ripping roofing off homes, snapping highway signs and damaging vehicles as skiers braved a 20-below-zero wind-chill factor.
Planes flying into Mammoth-June Lakes Airport were diverted to Bishop because of the winds.
"There's a new condo complex being built, and pieces are flying around--roofing, siding and plywood," said Diane Pay, manager of the Crowley Lake General Store 10 miles east of Mammoth Lakes off U.S. 395.
The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning for the Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite, including higher elevations of Mono County, and travelers advisories for high winds in Inyo County and Southern California's mountains and deserts.
The agency said the winds were caused by a storm from the Gulf of Alaska that was moving rapidly southeast through Northern California and into Southern California, coupled with a strong low-pressure area developing in Nevada.
The rapidly moving storm system could bring showers to the Los Angeles area this morning with winds gusting to 25 m.p.h., forecasters said. The snow level in local mountain areas will be above 4,000 feet. Skies should become partly cloudy by tonight with the next chance of rain coming Saturday, forecasters said.
The weather service said gusts hit 100 m.p.h. near the Mammoth-June Lakes Airport and several miles south near Rovana.
"The wind right now is 83 m.p.h.," Pay said Wednesday afternoon. "A few big highway signs snapped off. I know of one tree on a car. A lot of houses are losing roofing, just pieces. When I drove to work, one of my car windows was broken by the wind."
Several reports have been received of wind-carried small rocks breaking windows, and of air conditioners and other large items being carried off near Rovana, about eight miles northwest of Bishop, the weather service reported.
To the north, at the Mammoth Lakes Ski Resort on Mammoth Mountain, winds ranging up to 60 m.p.h. forced closure of the upper ski slopes, although several ski lifts were operating at lower elevations, spokeswoman Mary Shoshone said.
A weather service advisory urged skiers to "take shelter. The high winds have lowered wind-chill indices to 10 to 20 below zero."