California faces “critical” wildfire risk on Thanksgiving

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Southern California is facing an intense Santa Ana wind event over the Thanksgiving holiday, with the threat of “severe” wildfires because the region has received little rain this wet season so far.

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why it matters: The fire risk is estimated to be highest Wednesday through Friday, and any wildfire that ignites can become a fire that is difficult to stop.

description: Red flag warnings are in effect for about 18 million people. Extreme winds are expected Wednesday night through Thanksgiving Day.

  • Forecasters measure the intensity of Santa Ana events from the difference in air pressure between Los Angeles International Airport along the coast and an obscure tower of weather instruments located well inland in the small Mojave Desert community of Daggett.
  • The greater the forecast pressure difference, the more likely dry, down-flowing winds are likely to pass through valleys and mountain passes, moving from high pressure inland to low pressure close to the coast.
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threat level: The predicted pressure difference during this upcoming event puts it on the high end of the scale.

  • Peak winds can reach 70 mph, with relative humidity dropping to the single digits at the same time. Southern California Edison is notifying residents that it may cut power to about 150,000 customers before it winds up to prevent wildfires.
  • National Weather Service is warn residents and visitors Anyone who might be in the area for Thanksgiving has a plan to evacuate at short notice: “Any new fire can spread fast!”

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