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More flame-fanning Santa Ana winds on the way for Southern California

By
Renee Duff, Accuweather.com
The annual Santa Ana winds have the ability to fan flames, prompting wildfires throughout Southern California. File Photo by Bob Strong/UPI
The annual Santa Ana winds have the ability to fan flames, prompting wildfires throughout Southern California. File Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo

Southern California is getting a brief reprieve from high winds this weekend before yet another Santa Ana event evolves early next week.

Now, with blazes already fanned into existence from the last round of windy weather, forecasters say this next wind event has the potential to be even more troublesome.

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Less than 24 hours after red flag warnings were allowed to expire in parts of the region, fire weather watches were issued by the National Weather Service offices in Los Angeles and San Diego due to the anticipated resurgence of windy weather.

CalFire urged Californians on Friday to make sure they have an emergency supply kit readily accessible and up-to-date as the fire danger continues. By doing so, residents can save valuable minutes in the event of a sudden evacuation.

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Following locally breezy conditions for much of the weekend, winds are expected to ramp up in earnest once again as early as late Sunday night.

"Santa Ana winds will return by Monday, peaking as a moderate wind event Monday night into Tuesday," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dave Houk said.

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The gusty winds will return as an area of high pressure builds across the Great Basin early in the week and funnels air from the interior West to the Southern California coast.

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The proximity between this high and a storm expected to settle off the coast could give the intensity of the winds a boost, due to the difference in pressure between these two systems. When there is a large difference in pressure over a relatively small geographical area, winds become strong. This is basically the atmosphere's way of trying to balance itself out.

Frequent gusts of 40 mph to 60 mph are likely to occur in the wind-prone areas, with higher gusts expected to funnel through the northeast- to southwest-orientated canyons and passes.

Wind gusts near or slightly below this range are also likely across portions of Northern California from late Sunday through Monday, elevating fire concerns there as well.

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Blazes that have not yet been contained could spread further in such winds, and any new flames that erupt threaten to turn into raging infernos in a matter of minutes.

Along with the high fire threat, the wind gusts can also be locally strong enough to cause some damage to trees and power lines, especially in canyons and passes where the wind gets funneled on its way to the coast.

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Live power lines that are downed can also be sources of sparks that may ignite a wildfire.

In preparation for last week's wind event, Southern California utility companies shut off power to more than 100,000 customers. More planned shutoffs are possible early this week.

Although winds are forecast to ease by midweek, yet another round of gusty conditions are possible late next week.

With no precipitation in sight across the region, especially for Southern California, into at least the middle of December, AccuWeather meteorologists anticipate many more days of elevated fire danger across the region.

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