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'Damaging' winds, 'dangerous' ocean rip currents prompt warnings for L.A. area

January 23, 2011 |  8:00 am

The National Weather Service has issued a high-wind warning for portions of Southern California on Sunday, saying gusts up to 65 mph could uproot trees and make travel difficult for high-profile vehicles through some passes.

The warning is in effect through 3 p.m., with warm Santa Anas hitting the region's mountains, inland valley and canyon areas hardest.

[Updated at 10:13 a.m.: Gusty winds have already been recorded Sunday morning throughout L.A. County, with the Chilao campground in the San Gabriel Mountains seeing a gust of 66 mph. Malibu Hills recorded a gust of 52 mph; Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, 40 mph; Newhall Pass, 38 mph; and Van Nuys, 35 mph.]

The NWS also warned of potentially dangerous rip current conditions along the Orange and San Diego county coasts. [Updated at 10:13 a.m.: Dangerous conditions are also expected along the coasts of L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.]

Said Jamie Meier, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Oxnard: "We'll probably see some downed trees."

"Luckily, we still have pretty, green hillsides, so we're not as concerned about the fire danger. But it's still something people need to be aware of," Meier said.

The arrival of the Santa Anas will coincide with warmer-than-average temperatures across the Southland. Highs are expected to climb into the 70s in the L.A. region for the next five days and could creep into the 80s by Wednesday and Thursday, Meier said.

The Santa Ana winds are forming because of strong high pressure that is sinking to the surface in the Great Basin in the Nevada area. That high pressure will cause air to funnel toward Southern California. As the winds blow through the canyons ringing Los Angeles, they gain speed and temperatures rise as the air is compressed.

Meanwhile, much of the Northeast and Midwest are trapped in sub-freezing temperatures as frigid air from Canada sweeps down south. The lowest U.S. temperature recorded Saturday morning was 35 degrees below zero in Waskish, Minn., near the Canadian border.

[Updated at 10:13 a.m.: The highest national temperature on Saturday was in Palm Springs and Yuma, Ariz., which hit 78 degrees. The lowest temperature on Sunday morning was in International Falls, Minn., a town on the Canadian border that refers to itself as the "icebox of the nation." The low there was 37 degrees below zero.] 


Dangerous rip currents forecast for Orange and San Diego counties

-- Rong-Gong Lin II