SoCal will get some break from winds on Friday but critical fire weather will continue – Orange County Register

The red flag warning that has plagued Southern California for much of the week has been extended to Sunday evening as strong and dry Santa Ana winds continue to hammer the region, fueling wildfires, causing power outages and affecting air quality.

“It’s not unusual to see Santa Ana winds this time of year, but one thing that is unusual is how long this is going to continue,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark. “Some areas could see strong winds for the next four or five days, with exceptionally dry conditions and no chance of rain.”

The winds on Thursday were expected to be the strongest, with the National Weather Service calling it a “significant period” for critical fire conditions.

By mid-afternoon, gusts of up to 58 mph were reported in Ventura County valleys, while Los Angeles County saw gusts of 40 mph in the San Fernando Valley and up to 58 mph in some mountain areas.

San Gabriel Valley reported wind gusts of up to 53 mph, while 31 mph winds were reported at Long Beach Airport.

The strongest winds were expected to occur near the Los Angeles and Ventura county line.

The winds were expected to weaken on Friday and Saturday, with gusts of 25 to 35 mph expected. Winds will increase slightly on Sunday up to 45 mph gusts, before dropping off significantly on Monday and Tuesday, according to the NWS.

Deputy Chief Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the unusually strong gusts create a unique challenge for firefighters.

“It’s like a blow torch,” he said. “It’s not a wall of fire. It’s a torch of fire coming through these areas.”

While October is supposed to start the region’s rainy season, the past two months have been extremely dry, with just .11 inches of rain reported in Downtown Los Angeles since October and no traceable amounts of rain reported at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Clark said.

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