Santa Ana Winds Increase Wildfire Threat in Pasadena

Southern California has only received 23 percent of the its typical rainfall during 2013's first nine months

Published : Friday, October 4, 2013 | 5:20 AM

The expected arrival of Santa Ana winds in Southern California at the end of the week increases the threat of wildfires in the Pasadena area.

In contrast to the previous National Weather Service forecast that Santa Ana winds are expected to persist but weaken Friday afternoon through Saturday, the weather bureau’s latest report said the strongest Santa Ana winds are expected to occur Friday morning through Saturday morning.

The Santa Ana winds will have a speed ranging from 20 to 40 mph, AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said.

Clark explained that Santa Ana winds are a phenomenon caused by the high pressure building in the Pacific Northwest and lower pressure along the Southern California coast. It occurs in Southern California every fall and winter, and are the strongest from October to December, Accuweather.com reported.

The National Weather Service said the strong winds will be focused across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, where damaging wind gusts will be likely below and through favored passes and canyons. The bureau added that some mountain locations may expereince isolated gusts as high as 80 mph.

“This Santa Ana wind event will also bring very warm temperatures and very low humidities which will combine to create extreme fire danger across Southern California,” the weather bureau said.

The effects of the Santa Ana winds can be lessened with a sufficient amount of rainfall that would wet vegetation and and reduce the possibility of fires, Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert told the Los Angeles Times.

However, Patzert added that Southern California has only received 23 percent of the its typical rainfall during 2013′s first nine months.

The National Weather Service said the Santa Ana winds can make driving difficult for high-profile vehicles and reminded the public to “be alert for the possibility of downed trees and power lines as well as power outages.”

“The gusty Santa Ana Winds will also bring extreme fire danger to the region,” it added.

The National Weather Service has recently issued a Red Flag Warning, noting that critical fire weather conditions are to be expected throughout Thursday evening until Sunday evening. The public is also warned against dry fuels which could create extreme fire danger.

Pasadena Fire Chief Calvin Wells has also declared a Red Flag Parking Restrictions, wherein parking spaces are to be restricted on posted narrow and/or winding roads within Pasadena’s urban-wildland interface areas to pave way for a better Fire Department access and resident evacuation.