Fox News Weather Center

Strong winds, heat to increase wildfire threat across Southern California

Strong winds, which will develop later this week across Southern California, will elevate the threat of dangerous wildfires across the region.

Following several strong storm systems that pounded the West with rain and wind, a strengthening area of high pressure is expected to follow into the Great Basin during the middle of the week. This will help drive a strong offshore flow across Southern California.

"After damp, cloudy and cool start on Monday across Southern California, a complete reversal happens for the rest of the week resulting in big changes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said.

Sundowner then Santa Ana winds are expected to develop and, in combination with low relative humidity, values will lead to an elevated risk for wildfires across the region.

A gusty northerly wind will be more prevalent Tuesday and Wednesday helping to drive Sundowner winds across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Winds are expected to shift for the second half of the week, blowing more from the northeast. This will help drive Santa Ana winds and will bring the wildfire threat farther south.

"These winds will raise the fire level to extreme with the strongest gusts from late Tuesday night into Thursday," Clark warned. "Winds between 25 and 45 mph can be expected with higher gusts."

Gusty winds will whip through the canyon passes with isolated stronger gusts possible across the sparsely populated mountaintops. Minor damage may occur from the wind gusts.

Strong crosswinds will also pose a threat to high-profile vehicles. Smaller cars could also be impacted, making driving difficult at times on local highways.

While there are no major fires burning in Southern California at this time, any potential fire this week could spread rapidly in these conditions. Residents and passing motorists will want to be extra cautious.

CAL FIRE reported that additional firefighters and resources will be made available during the event.

Many of the wildfires that burn in the United States are started by people, including through leaving campfires unattended, setting off fireworks, burning leaves and discarding lit cigarettes improperly.

A few fires are burning across the West, including the Little Valley fire between Reno and Carson City, Nevada.

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Recent rain has helped the roughly 667 fire personnel gain ground on the fire, but containment is still not near 100 percent.

The fire has destroyed 22 residences so far and burned 3,400 acres.

In addition to the warm winds, a strengthening ridge of high pressure aloft will also favor above-average warmth. In some cases, the heat could challenge or even break records.

"Near- or even record-breaking heat is likely to develop by Wednesday and continue through Friday under sunny skies," Clark said.

Afternoon temperatures on Wednesday through Friday in Los Angeles will surge into the middle 90s F. This will challenge high temperature records. Temperatures may near 100 even farther inland.

Folks will want to stay hydrated during the daytime and avoid strenuous activity in the heat. Taking breaks in the shade and wearing light-colored clothing are a couple of ways to help battle the heat.

"Air conditioners that have been resting for days will get a workout later in the week," Clark said.

The flow will weaken and shift more onshore late in the weekend and early next week which will allow temperatures to drop back to near normal.