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Santa Ana winds predicted to raise Los Angeles-area temperatures and possibly cause damage Sunday

January 22, 2011 |  1:38 pm


Strong Santa Ana winds could cause widespread damage in parts of Southern California on Sunday, as forecasters predicted gusts of up to 45 mph along the Los Angeles County coast and up to 65 mph in the mountains.

The National Weather Service also warned of potentially dangerous rip current conditions along the Orange and San Diego county coasts.

"We're expecting the winds to pick up this evening and really start to get kicking after midnight," said Jamie Meier, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Oxnard. "We'll probably see some downed trees," she said.

"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.


Dangerous rip currents forecast for Orange and San Diego counties

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Graphic: A National Weather Service warning about the arrival of Santa Ana winds on Sunday. Credit: National Weather Service