Gusty winds to elevate wildfire risk in Southern California through this weekend

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
October 20, 2018, 7:32:06 PM EDT

Locally gusty winds will contribute to an elevated risk of wildfire ignition and spread across parts of Southern California through Saturday.

While this will not be an extreme Santa Ana event, gusts between 35 and 45 mph are possible in some of the northeast- to southwest-orientated canyons and passes.

Winds are forecast to average 10-20 mph elsewhere, except for the immediate Los Angeles basin, where winds will be significantly less strong.

Static Fire Danger

While Friday brought the strongest winds of the event, enough of a breeze will persist to keep the fire risk elevated through much of the weekend in the canyons and over the passes.

It has been nearly a week since the last significant rainfall. Brush has once again reached a critically dry stage.

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The winds will help to boost temperatures over the region. Highs are forecast to be well into the 80s F each day. A few locations may flirt with 90. The warmth will help to lower humidity levels, which will also boost the fire threat.

"People should use extreme caution with open flames and outdoor power equipment," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

"Never toss a burning cigarette on the ground. Even the breeze generated by passing vehicles can be enough to ignite a wildfire. Avoid driving over and parking on high brush. The hot exhaust system can also spark a fire," Duffey said.

The gusty winds can also kick up dust, which can temporarily blind some motorists. Proceed with extreme caution under those conditions.

Farther to the east, a pocket of moisture will become trapped over part of the Great Basin this weekend.

Static SW US Weekend

This moisture will produce a fair amount of clouds and cause spotty showers and thunderstorms over portions of Arizona, Utah and Nevada on Saturday and Sunday.

People spending time outdoors or on the road across the interior Southwest may face some interruptions and delays as a result.

Meanwhile, a pair of budding tropical features off the southwest coast of Mexico over the Pacific are not expected to move far enough to the north to bring rain to most of the region.

It is possible that this tropical moisture gets pulled across Texas, where they do not need it, and potentially aggravates flooding later next week.

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