Santa Ana winds to elevate fire danger in Southern California into midweek

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
October 15, 2018, 6:45:57 PM EDT

Residents and fire crews in Southern California should be on alert for rapidly spreading wildfires as Santa Ana winds whip through during the first half of the week.

This will be the first significant Santa Ana wind event of the season, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark.

A woman died in Tustin, California, on Monday after strong Santa Ana winds caused a large eucalyptus tree to break and fall onto her car, according to the Los Angeles Times.

With the Santa Ana winds bringing in very dry air, a high fire danger is likely during the first half of the week, he added.

The heavy rainfall that doused the region on Friday night and Saturday will likely do little to help negate the enhanced fire danger, as the gusty winds, along with sunshine, will quickly dry out the landscape early this week.

As of the most recent report, much of Southern California remained in severe to extreme drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

People should exercise extreme caution with potential ignition sources, such as outdoor campfires, barbecues, power equipment, cigarette butts and matches.

Static Tuesday SW

The strong winds can quickly fan a small spark into an uncontrollable inferno in a matter of minutes.

Having an emergency bag on hand can save valuable time should a rapidly spreading fire force a quick evacuation of your property.

“The strongest winds will occur into Tuesday,” Clark said, adding that the winds would begin to diminish by midweek.

Static Santa Ana Tuesday

Winds are expected to gust between 50-60 mph in the wind-prone canyons and passes and possibly as high as 70 mph in the mountains.

Such winds can down trees and power lines.

In addition to causing power outages, the sparks from downed lines and transformers may also start fires.

Motorists traveling along stretches of interstates 5, 10 and 40 can expect to encounter dangerous crosswinds.

High-profile vehicles will be most susceptible to being tossed around by the winds and possibly being overturned.

Motorists may also face reduced visibility at times as the winds kick up blowing dust or transport wildfire smoke.

What are Santa Ana winds?
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Evacuation checklist: How to get your family out safely in the face of an imminent disaster

Airline passengers should anticipate increased turbulence and possible flight delays, including at the major hubs of Los Angeles and San Diego.

Loose outdoor items that are not secured to the ground should be brought inside to prevent them from blowing around and becoming dangerous projectiles.

"Even though winds will ease by Tuesday night and Wednesday, brush around the region will have thoroughly dried from this past weekend's showers," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

"It may take less wind by then to keep the fire risk elevated."

As is typically the case during Santa Ana wind events, downtown Los Angeles will stay relatively calm.

While this means the winds will not create issues for games 3 and 4 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium through Tuesday night, fans traveling to the game could face disruptions due to downed trees and power lines.

Dramatic temperature spikes that can be common during Santa Ana winds are not expected during this event, as highs are forecast to remain in the lower 80s F away from the coast.

Outside of Southern California, breezy conditions will also whip through Las Vegas early this week, possibly leading to flight delays and areas of blowing dust.

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