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Strong winds on the way for Southern California

February 12, 2012 | 10:09 pm

Strong winds are expected to blow through Southern California on Monday, picking up in the afternoon and possibly making driving difficult, weather forecasters said.

The strongest winds of 25 to 35 mph, with gusts of up to 50 mph, are expected in the Point Conception area of the coast and in the desert and mountain communities of California City, Tejon Pass, Ridgecrest and Edwards Air Force Base. A wind advisory issued by the National Weather Service for the Antelope Valley will be in effect from noon Monday to 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Downtown Los Angeles could also see winds of 15 or 20 mph, with gusts exceeding 30 mph, according to Erik Pindrock, a meteorologist with Accuweather.com.

A storm system moving through Northern California is expected to work through the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys by Monday, causing the high winds, he said.

He warned drivers to be on the lookout for dangerous crosswinds and to refrain from throwing cigarette butts from cars to avoid starting wildfires. The National Weather Service also warned that blowing sand or dust could restrict visibility, especially along California 14.

The winds are not expected to reach the level that blew down trees and knocked out power for thousands of residents in December. Those winds averaged 40 to 80 mph, Pindrock said.

-- Teresa Watanabe