Strong winds and extreme wildfire danger predicted for Southern California this week

This Santa Ana wind event will likely be the strongest and longest duration one we have seen so far this fire season. Red Flag Warnings have been issued for Sunday night through Thursday.

Red Flag Warnings issued wildfire Southern California

Above: Red Flag Warnings issued for Southern California December 3, 2017.

(Originally published at 9:31 a.m. PST December 3, 2017)

The strongest Santa Ana wind event so far this fire season is in the forecast for the coastal and mountain areas of Southern California this week. The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for Sunday night through Thursday for areas within the counties of Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego.

It is unusual for a Red Flag Warning to extend over parts of five days. And this one has the possibility of being extended for an additional one or two days into the weekend.

The exact timing and speeds will vary by location, but generally, powerful winds will begin Sunday night out of the north and on Monday will be from the northeast at 25 to 40 mph with gusts of 50 to 65, reaching 80 at some peaks and exposed areas.

The NWS forecast includes this statement:

If fire ignition occurs, there will be the potential for rapid spread of wildfire with extreme fire behavior that could lead to a threat to life and property.

The strong winds and low relative humidities (5 to 15 percent)  should continue at least through Thursday. Long range computer models are showing the possibility that the Santa Ana winds could persist into Friday or Saturday, which may require the extension of the Red Flag Warnings.

Wind Gusts Tuesday california santa winds wildfire

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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