Persistent heat will keep the wildfire danger at critical levels across Southern California this week despite winds throttling back slowly.
Ten blazes are actively burning across the state, according to Cal Fire. Since Sunday, Oct. 8, wildfires have charred over 245,000 acres and have claimed the lives of 42 people in California.
Gusty Santa Ana winds will pose challenges to fire crews into Wednesday evening as they can create erratic wildfire behavior and cause rapid growth of newly sparked blazes.
A Santa Ana wind event will bring a strong offshore flow into Southern California with winds, especially downwind of mountain passes, exceeding 50 mph at times, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said.
"Gusts can reach 70 mph in some of the north- and east-facing canyons and passes in Southern California," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda said.
Localized damage and sporadic power outages can occur. Staying in driving lanes will be difficult, especially for those in high-profile vehicles.
The air will warm as the wind flows downhill from the mountains toward the coast. Long-standing record highs may be broken as temperatures soar into the 90s and lower 100s F.
“Temperatures will lower as the Santa Ana weakens late this week but remain above normal,” Boston said.
Highs 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit above normal through Wednesday will be replaced with highs 5 to 10 degrees above normal by Friday. The amount of moisture in the air will remain at very low levels, making it easy for a new blaze to ignite.
The slackening winds on Thursday and Friday will lower the risk of wildfires rapidly spreading out of control and breaching containment lines.
However, a wildfire that is intense enough can generate its own gusty winds which can cause the blaze to move in unexpected directions.
While Northern California will be immune from the strongest winds this week, unseasonable warmth will persist in this part of the state as well with daytime temperatures mainly in the 80s.
It may take until the last days of October for cooler, more seasonable conditions to sweep across the state. No dousing rainfall is anticipated heading into early November.