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Santa Ana winds to bring warming to Southern California

File photo: Meteorologists say the strongest of the northeast gusts will occur Wednesday and Thursday.
File photo: Meteorologists say the strongest of the northeast gusts will occur Wednesday and Thursday.
Larry & Teddy Page/Flickr via Creative Commons

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Southern California is warming up to summer like conditions under the influence of developing Santa Ana winds.

The National Weather Service says the region is rapidly transitioning to dry offshore flow as surface high pressure builds into the Great Basin.

Forecasters say the strongest of the northeast gusts will occur Wednesday and Thursday, but they don't expect these winds to spark any brush fires.

Meteorologist Tom Rolinski with the U.S. Forest Service noted recent winter rains have helped to hydrate the chaparral vegetation that when dry, fuel fires.

"We’ve got a lot of green grass," he explained.

"The fuel moisture content in the plants that are alive is high... so that’s helping to mitigate any fire concerns."

Rolinski added though, as these dry winds blow, they'll sap water from plants. That could spell trouble in the months ahead if the region continues to see strong Santa Ana winds and little rain.

Such a scenario occurred last spring, stoking various fires around Southern California.

For now though, the threat is minimal, though temperatures will be well above normal for the second half of this week, with highs in the 80s in many areas.

Along the shore, high surf pounding some beaches has been subsiding, but forecasters say a west-northwest swell generated last week in the western Pacific will arrive late Wednesday and persist through Friday. It's expected to peak at 10 feet.

This story has been updated.