Fallen tree in Balboa Park
A fallen eucalyptus tree in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office

With high winds causing dozens of large trees to fall in and around Balboa Park, the city closed the central San Diego park to the public Thursday.

Additionally, Balboa Park Golf Course, Presidio Park and Chollas Lake were also closed to the public. City crews were working to remove fallen tree limbs and branches that were blocking streets and walkways, according to the city. Street lights were also being impacted by the high winds.

Forecasts had called for peak Santa Ana wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph along the coast, and up to 70 mph inland.

However, the National Weather Service reported through the morning and afternoon, the blustery conditions had led to gusts of up to 93 mph in the mountains, 87 mph across the inland valleys, 48 mph in coastal communities and 44 mph in the deserts.

The conditions downed trees and topped big rigs, authorities said.

One of the trees that fell in the park earlier Thursday morning – an 85-foot-tall eucalyptus –landed on a woman who had to be taken to a hospital for treatment of head and other injuries, which were deemed non-life threatening.

According to the city, teams will be monitoring the high winds and working to clean up public areas around Balboa Park, within Presidio Park and nearby Morley Field.

Visitors were asked to avoid trying to enter Balboa Park and to use caution in and around the affected areas. Employees working in the park, museums and other cultural institutions in Balboa Park are asked to leave for the day.

The closures will remain in effect for the rest of the day out of an abundance of caution to protect public safety. The city will evaluate conditions prior to reopening park areas to public access Friday.

Other communities that contended with windy conditions included Scripps Ranch, Campo and Alpine.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m., two roughly 100-foot-tall trees toppled at a townhouse complex in the 10200 block of Caminito Covewood, hitting three residences and crushing three vehicles, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The mishap also left an occupant of one of the homes trapped for about 15 minutes, until crews could free the person, the agency reported.

In the eastern reaches of the county, wind hazards forced closures of Interstate 8, where several big rigs overturned.

The gusty conditions were expected to “drop off rather quickly this evening and tonight,” making way for a breezy and somewhat warmer Friday, according to the weather service. But be warned: winds are expected to return Sunday.

During windy conditions, San Diegans are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, stay away from large trees with heavy branches, and to use caution during their commutes. To report downed trees or streetlights, use the city of San Diego’s Get It Done app or call 619-527-7500.

City News Service contributed to this article.

Updated 7:25 p.m. Jan. 26, 2023

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.