Strong winds will howl across parts of Southern California this week that could cause damage and increase the risk of wildfires, following an event in Santa Ana last week.
Santa Ana winds, which occur when winds pick up and intensify as they travel from the inland desert toward the coast, can have a wide impact on the Los Angeles area during the fall and winter months.
Southern California has been bone dry since the start of December, and in Los Angeles, measurable rain hasn’t fallen since November 18. The long summer, combined with low humidity and the coming Santa winds, can make a recipe for wildfires.
“A storm moving from the Rockies to the Plains is always a perfect recipe for wind events along the Southern California coast, and this week is no exception,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jake Sojda.
Besides sometimes causing difficult travel conditions, strong winds can be dry, which brings other risks. “Because the air comes down from the deserts, they can be very dry, which can lead to a high fire risk,” added Sojda.
That wildfire risk will expand between Tuesday night and Wednesday as Santa Ana activity moves up the mountains and valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, AccuWeather meteorologists said. This hazard may remain in place through Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.
The National Weather Service forecast office in Oxnard, which serves the greater Los Angeles area, offers some tips to prevent wildfires from spreading quickly. This includes teaching children about the dangers of playing with fire, not burning trash or brush, not parking vehicles on dry grass, and not leaving hot grills unattended.
During the height of the event, winds in the 30–40 mph range will be common, with some higher gusts likely. AccuWeather Local StormMax is 70 mph, likely to occur at the highest elevations.
Winds of this magnitude can cause minor damage and toss light objects, such as holiday decorations. Travelers, especially in high-profile vehicles, may also experience difficulties driving in windy areas along interstates 5, 10, and 15 and other state and county roads.
Gusty winds could continue through Thursday morning before easing back toward the end of the week.
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