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Fire danger high Sunday because of strong winds and dry conditions

Gusts of wind reaching up to 55 miles per hour are expected across Southern California through Sunday night, prompting the National Weather Service to issue fire danger warnings.
The strongest winds are expected below the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County and in the coastal foothills of the Santa Ana mountains, said National Weather Service meteorologist Derek Schroeter.
Early Sunday gusts of 63 miles per hour were recorded at Freemont Canyon north of Irvine Lake while 58 mile per hour gusts were recorded at Pleasants Peak in Limestone Canyon Regional Park.
The fire danger warning remains in effect until 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17.
The strong wind conditions combined with unseasonably dry conditions create challenging conditions for fighting fires and Southern California residents are asked to be especially mindful when using motorized tools outside. Motorists hauling trailers are urged to be vigilant about not dragging chains and homeowners should not perform landscape work that requires chainsaws or motorized tools.
Much of Southern California has received virtually no rain since the beginning of the rain year which started Oct. 1, meaning chaparral and brush that is normally green by this time of year remains brown and dry – easy tinder for fires.
Southern California has received less than 5 percent the normal level of precipitation for the rain year, Schroeter said.
John Wayne Airport has recorded no measurable rain, while Long Beach has received .07 inches. Riverside has measured only .03 inches of rain, the second driest start to the rain year after a record set in 1929.
“This La Nina is panning out to be the traditional type of La Nina,” Schroeter said. “We’ve had this persistent ridge over the west coast and a trough over the east coast for the last few months.”
That ridge is deflecting storms from the Pacific Ocean north to British Columbia.
The extended dry period may be coming to an end.
The latest climate models show rain on the horizon toward the end of December and beginning of January.
Source: Oc Register

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