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Santa Anas may join the parade

December 31, 2007|Scott Gold | Times Staff Writer

The Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl have long served as Southern California's annual infomercials, as millions of people around the world gather around their television sets to marvel at the floats and the football -- but also to wonder how it could possibly be so darn sunny in the middle of the winter.

This year, though, the parade and the game could feature another trademark of Southern California weather: Santa Ana winds.

The National Weather Service said Sunday night that a high-pressure system was descending on the region. The system is expected to bring sustained winds in excess of 25 mph, with gusts of at least 50 mph, though Pasadena itself will probably be sheltered from the worst of the wind.

Rain is likely to follow, probably later in the week and lasting, potentially, through next weekend.

"It's that time of year," said Bill Hoffer, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Today is expected to be sunny, with high temperatures close to 70 degrees. The wind, however, will probably be underway, initially with gusts up to 40 mph.

On Tuesday, New Year's Day, the weather service is predicting sunshine, with highs in the low- to mid-70s and northeast winds sustained between 20 and 35 mph before weakening in the afternoon. The Rose Parade is to begin at 8 a.m. that day, the game at 2 p.m.

The highest gusts will be near canyons and passes, which act as bellows for the Santa Anas.

Clouds are expected to follow by Tuesday night, and rain is possible Wednesday through Sunday.

High winds, meantime, combined with low humidity, mean an increased possibility of wildfires. The weather service has issued a fire weather watch for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, effective this afternoon through Tuesday afternoon.

Similar -- though extreme -- weather conditions contributed to a region-wide conflagration in October that destroyed more than 2,000 homes and burned more than 500,000 acres between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border.

For more than a century, the Rose Parade has built a sunny reputation. However, in 2006, a windy rainstorm pelted the area, toppling trees and disrupting light-rail service in Pasadena during the parade -- but it was only the 10th time Mother Nature had rained on the parade and the first time in half a century.

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