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Santa Ana winds to whip across Southern California this week

December 03, 2017; 9:25 PM

One of the strongest Santa Ana wind episodes of the season is expected this week across Southern California.

The event is just now beginning with some strong gusts already being observed across the region. Winds are actually more northerly at this time helping to produce Sundowner winds across Santa Barbara County but will shift to the northeast later tonight.

An area of high pressure will expand across the Great Basin and strengthen through Monday night. Weather models show a 1040 mb area of high pressure centered over Idaho by Monday night. This area of high pressure will linger through at least Thursday.

santa ana dec 4 17

A strong area of high pressure over the Great Basin will create a strong pressure gradient over California. This will lead to a moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event through the week. Model shown is the GFS.

A strong pressure gradient will form across California and will create a strong northeasterly offshore flow, thus bringing the threat for moderate to strong Santa Ana winds gusts.

The mountains, passes and foothills of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties will experience frequent gusts of 40 to 60 mph this week. However, there will be two time periods where gusts could be stronger and those time periods are late Monday into Tuesday morning and also Wednesday night into Thursday. This is when the pressure gradient will be the strongest. Wind gusts of 70 to 80 mph could occur in the mountains during this time.

santa ana feature dec 4

The strong winds will cause many issues this week, including downed trees and wires leading to power outages. There will also be blowing dust and lowered visibility. High profile vehicles traveling through any of the passes or mountains could be flipped over.

The dry down-sloping winds will also lead to very low humidity values which will heighten the risk for fire ignition. Obviously with the gusty winds in place, any fire could spread very quickly.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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