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Fox News Weather Center

First Significant Santa Ana Winds of Season Target Southern California

The first significant Santa Ana wind event of the season will whip across Southern California at late week.

The return of the winds will renew the fire danger, create hazardous crosswinds for motorists and increase the potential for tree damage and power outages.

The wind event will commence on Thursday as an area of high pressure begins to build into the Great Basin.

"Northerly winds will initially blow through the [I-5 corridor of] the Grapevine and north-south canyons of Santa Barbara County on Thursday," stated AccuWeather Western Weather Expert Ken Clark.

These winds, which will kick up Wednesday night, will blow the strongest in the morning with gusts of around 50 mph expected.

Clark anticipates similar gusts in the populated Santa Ana wind-prone areas of Southern California Thursday night into Friday as the winds shift to a more northeasterly direction. Locally higher gusts will be recorded on the sparsely-populated mountaintops.

"Some wind will persist Friday night into Saturday morning but will be more localized," Clark continued.

Residents should use extreme care with cigarette butts, sparks and flames as the combination of the winds and resultant drier air being pumped into Southern California will heighten the fire danger.

Clark stated that the fire danger is not as extreme as it would have been without the rainfall earlier this fall.

"[The vegetation] is not as much of a tinder box where it has rained significantly in the past month," he said. Clark quickly added "Everything can still burn" not to downplay the fire risk totally.

Drivers of high-profile vehicles planning to travel on roads in wind-prone areas will be at risk for dangerous crosswinds. This includes I-15's Cajon Pass and other stretches of highway in western San Bernardino County, as well as Rt. 74 through the Santa Ana Mountains.

Even drivers of smaller vehicles will feel the winds tug on their cars or trucks.

Gusty winds on Friday will not be confined to Southern California on Friday but will also whip through the lower Colorado River basin (near the border of Arizona and California as well as around Las Vegas).

"These winds will gust to 40 mph, leading to blowing sand and dust," Clark said.

While Downtown Los Angeles and San Diego will stay sheltered from the late-week winds, warming will still occur Friday into Saturday as is typical during most Santa Ana events.

Temperatures Friday and Saturday will generally range from around 80 F at the beaches to the middle 80s to near 90 across the rest of the Coastal Plain and the valleys.

"Saturday will be the warmest day with temperatures well above normal," stated Clark.

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The warmth during the day will lead to a mild night for trick-or-treaters Saturday evening.

As the wind winds down this weekend, attention will turn toward a storm system that may usher in the "coolest weather so far this season during the mid- to later part of next week," said Clark. "Snow levels could be below the ski resorts next Tuesday and Wednesday."

Another wind event could develop on the backside of this system later in the week.