The fierce Santa Ana winds that descend over Southern California over the Thanksgiving holiday fuel the fire – and frost – worries, radically divergent phenomena that can happen with the seasonal gusts.
A red flag warning went into effect Wednesday at 10 a.m. for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and will last until 6 p.m. Friday, as gusty northeast winds and dry air pose a fire hazard critical in the area, according to the National Weather Service.
Gusts are expected to peak between 35 and 55 mph, with intense isolated gusts of 60 to 70 mph potentially blasting foothills and mountains. Winds are expected to be strongest from Wednesday evening through Thursday morning, causing early Thanksgiving morning gusts.
Authorities predict that relative humidity readings will drop to critical levels on Wednesday afternoon and continue to drop as low as 2% to 8% Thursday and Friday, along with “very poor overnight recoveries, especially in the mountain areas “, according to the warning.
Winds are expected to ease by Friday, but low humidity and occasional gusty winds will keep the fire danger high throughout the afternoon, according to the warning.
“Any new start of fire could spread quickly!” The weather service warned in a tweet, noting in a different tweet that residents should have a contingency plan in the event of an evacuation triggered by a rapidly moving wildfire, even at night.
Temperatures in coastal areas and valleys are expected to hover in the mid-1970s through Thanksgiving before warming slightly on Friday and over the weekend, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist at the Weather Service’s Oxnard station.
The beaches could experience the hottest temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday. “This is generally the case with Santa Anas,” Kittell said, explaining that the air warms up as it drops in altitude.
Southern California Edison said on Tuesday that nearly 99,000 customers could be affected by public safety power outages to reduce the risk of fire on blown utility lines.
Interior areas of Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Los Angeles counties could experience the biggest blackouts, the utility said. Kern and Orange counties could also be affected.
Often associated with hot, dry air, Santa Anas can shuttle through cold air from the Great Basin to the Southland valleys and inland mountains, the weather service said. Temperatures may drop well below freezing in Antelope Valley, which is not included in the red flag warning, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
“Not all Santa Ana’s are hot – it all depends on the type of air entering the area,” Kittell said. Stronger Santa Anas are often associated with colder events, he said, this event should be moderate to strong.
Weather officials have advised residents to be prepared to protect sensitive plants and shelter outdoor animals in freezing conditions. Temperatures between 33 and 36 degrees can damage plants left outside, while 32 degrees and below can kill them.
For areas that experience freezing conditions frequently, such as Antelope Valley, frost warnings – often intended for agriculture – are not issued for every event, Kittell said. It is the first frost episodes that tend to pose the greatest risk to plants, including crops, and the Antelope Valley has seen several of these already this season. After that, much of the damage is already done.
No warning is in place, but authorities could issue a hard frost warning for Thursday evening. A hard frost, in which temperatures drop below 28 degrees, can affect infrastructure such as pipes in addition to agriculture, Kittell said.
Meanwhile, in the Sierra, dry and unusually warm conditions for the season are causing some ski resorts to delay their winter season – a sharp reversal after an early season storm in late October dumped snow on some peaks, leading some stations at the time to open ahead of schedule.
The Lake Tahoe Sugar Bowl station announced this week that it will not open Friday for Thanksgiving weekend as scheduled.
“We kept our hopes up as long as we could”, but a forecast of non-ideal conditions forced a delay, the resort wrote on his website Monday.
No updated opening date has been provided for the resort, located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. “As soon as we find out, we’ll let you know,” the resort said.
Heavenly and Northstar resorts have already announced that they will not be open until the statutory holiday weekend, the Associated Press reported.
Palisades Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain, south of Lake Tahoe, had both started their winter seasons early due to a massive atmospheric river-fed storm late last month. Palisades Tahoe has since closed due to dry weather.
Since that storm, “we’ve had a pretty long period of dry conditions with temperatures not at the level they need to use their snowmaking equipment,” said Mark Deutschendorf, meteorologist at Reno Weather Station, speaking generally. of Sierra seaside resorts.
No snow or rain is expected for at least next week, and temperatures are well above average for the end of November, Deutschendorf said, calling it “more or less the same”. The waiting pattern is expected to last until early December.
The emergence of La Niña conditions for the second year in a row is a major factor behind the hot and dry conditions in southern California.
The phenomenon is associated with warmer and drier winters in the southwest and colder and wetter conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Northern California, right in the middle, is more of a cinch.
In the midst of the La Niña recall, southern California this winter is expected to experience below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures, according to a 2021 study. Winter outlook published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs from December to February.
South of the Bay Area – throughout central and southern California – “the prospects for drought improvement are slim,” NOAA meteorologist Brad Pugh said late last month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.