Southern California braces for strong Santa Ana winds


Southern California is bracing this week for what could possibly be the strongest Santa Ana winds of the 12 months, raising concerns around fire dangers, in keeping with experts.

“Today is the calm before the gusty winds are expected,” David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said Monday.

“That is going to be the largest event this season,” Sweet added.

Moderate Santa Ana winds are expected to develop Tuesday morning and proceed throughout the day, with gusts starting from 35 mph to 45 mph, in keeping with the National Weather Service. A high wind watch is in effect for parts of Los Angeles County, including the mountains and the San Fernando Valley, and far of Ventura County from Tuesday night through Wednesday evening.

Gusts will peak Wednesday morning, with “damaging northeast winds” expected at 75 mph, Sweet said. Temperatures are forecast to be within the low 70s, and relative humidity will likely be down between 10% to twenty%, Sweet added. With conditions ripe for rapid fire growth, weather experts have issued a fireplace weather look ahead to western L.A. County and nearly all of Ventura County from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

A watch means critical fire weather conditions are possible but not imminent or occurring, weather experts said. Weather experts have warned of downed power lines and trees, and advise securing any outdoor furniture, including trampolines.

The conditions this week have also led to concerns about cold weather expected for parts of L.A. County.

“With very dry air in place, the temperature tends to drop like a rock overnight,” said Sweet, adding the week didn’t look “terribly cold.” However the wind could drop off in places including Ojai in Ventura County and the Antelope Valley, where temperatures might sink to the mid-30s any night this week, Sweet said.

Muntu Davis, the Los Angeles County public health officer, issued a cold weather alert on Sunday for several areas, including within the Santa Clarita Valley, in effect through Tuesday; the Mt. Wilson area, in effect through Wednesday; and Lancaster, in effect through Friday.

Davis said seniors, children and people with disabilities or medical needs are especially vulnerable, and reminded the general public to not heat their homes with stoves, ovens or barbecues due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has a program for individuals who need warm shelter, Davis said.

Areas below the Cajon Pass and thru the Inland Empire, including Ontario and Corona, and increasing to the Santa Ana mountains and foothills, including in Tustin and Orange, could have gusts as much as 70 mph. Winds will reach about 50 mph in most urban locations, said Dan Gregoria, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

Winds are expected to subside Wednesday evening. A weaker wind event is forecast for later this week, Gregoria said.

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