Santa Anas Increase Fire Threat Amidst Record Dry Year in Southern California

By Mark Leberfinger, Staff Writer
December 28, 2013; 1:12 AM ET
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Play video Click the above video for a detailed look at the forecast for Los Angeles.

Santa Ana winds and warmth will continue into the weekend in Southern California, elevating the fire risk.

Winds sustained up to 30-40 mph are expected through late this week, with the highest gusts occurring through the canyons and mountain passes of Southern California.

"Any time there is a Santa Ana, it raises the fire danger due to low relative humidity and areas of wind," Western Forecasting Expert Ken Clark said.

Southern California is in the grips of a severe drought, so there is plenty of dry vegetation that can act as fuel for any fires that ignite. Gusty winds could fan the flames.

Record Dry Year Within Reach for California Cities
Detailed Hourly Forecast for Los Angeles
California to End Year as Driest on Record

Through Saturday, Downtown Los Angeles has only received 3.60 inches of rain in 2013, according to the National Weather Service. This may go down as the driest calendar year on record.

The dry conditions will continue into 2014, Clark said.

L.A. Downtown Driest Calendar Years on Record

Rainfall (Inches)
2013 (so far)
1953, 1947

Temperatures will be 10 to 15 degrees above normal through the weekend in the Los Angeles area. However, it will not be as warm as it was on Friday, when a new record high of 85 degrees was recorded in Downtown Los Angeles.

While lighter winds gusted through the city Friday, a period of Santa Ana winds will arrive Saturday night into Sunday, Clark said.

Content contributed by Meteorologist Meghan Evans.


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