Powerful wind storms left a path of destruction across several Western states Thursday, with several communities declaring emergencies after trees were toppled, heavy vehicles flipped, and hundreds of thousands were left without power.
The National Weather Service described this year's Santa Ana winds as a once-in-a-decade event.
The powerful winds were the result of a dramatic difference in pressure between a strong, high-pressure system and a cold, low-pressure system, meteorologists said.
This type of weather event funnels strong winds down mountain canyons and slopes.
The system brought high wind warnings and advisories for California, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico.
More than 300,000 people living in southern California lost power as wind gusts reaching 123 miles per hour knocked trees onto homes, cracked light poles, and toppled semi-trucks.
"The windows were rattling. It was kind of like experiencing an earthquake without the shake," said local resident Nick Stacey.
"It was sounded like a hurricane. Very scary and we couldn't sleep," said Tina Bates, another resident.
Even some weather experts were surprised by the wind's force.
"It's one of the strongest events that I can remember," said Brian Edwards, a meteorologist with Accuweather. "It's rather rare."
Forecasters say the winds will continue through Friday. The blustery weather is expected to eventually hit Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana.