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Santa Ana winds batter Southern California; fire danger high

October 04, 2013|By a Times Staff Writer

Wind gust topping 50 mph were reported in some parts of Southern California on Friday as Santa Ana winds battered the region.

The strong winds and dry conditions have officials worried about wildfires this weekend.

Red flag warnings are in affect this weekend. And the National Weather Service issued wind warnings through Saturday evening.

Just .09 inches of rain has fallen in the last three months, said JPL climatologist Bill Patzert.

"I can't exaggerate how crispy it is out there," he said. "It's really just super dry."

This year has been the sixth-driest year in 135 recorded years, Patzert said. 

A healthy rainfall can help mitigate the effects of a Santa Ana wind, wetting vegetation and reducing the likelihood of fires. But total precipitation for the first nine months of this year has amounted to just 23% of the area's typical rainfall, Patzert said. 

Across the state, firefighters have battled an unusually high number of fires.

Already this year, more than 5,600 fires have burned more than 146,000 acres. The five-year average is 4,000 wildfires by this time of year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.


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