RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A Santa Ana wind event packing gusts up to 60 mph is forecast for the Inland Empire starting Saturday night and continuing into early next week, according to the National Weather Service
The agency posted a High Wind Watch beginning at 3 a.m. Sunday and ending at 10 p.m. Monday, though meteorologists remain undecided as to exactly when the northeasterly winds will subside.
The NWS said that a surface ridge of high pressure will anchor over the Great Basin in Nevada and Utah, moving in behind a low-pressure system as it exits eastward, bringing “periods of gusty Santa Ana winds and dry conditions to Southern California.”
Forecasters said that the relative humidity will drop to as low as 5%, resulting in bone-dry conditions across the inland region, potentially raising wildfire danger.
“For Saturday night through Tuesday, there will be elevated fire weather conditions, with periods of critical fire weather,” the Weather Service stated.
The agency predicted winds averaging between 20 and 30 mph, “with gusts of 55 to 60 mph possible” in some locations. Mountains and passes, including the San Gorgonio Pass between Banning and Whitewater, will be on the receiving end of the most intense gusts, according to the NWS.
“Strong winds could damage trees and other objects,” the agency said. “Travel could be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles.”
Although the High Wind Watch currently ends on Monday night, the NWS said in a statement that there are “some differences in forecast solutions,” leaving open the possibility of continued strong easterly winds going into Wednesday.
High temperatures in the Riverside metropolitan area will peak in the mid 70s over the weekend, with overnight lows in the low 50s. The mercury will climb into the low 80s early next week.
In the Coachella Valley, daytime temperatures will settle in the low 80s through the weekend, with lows in the mid 50s. There will be little change going into next week.
In the Temecula Valley, weekend highs will be in the low 70s, with lows dropping to around 50. The same warmup in the Riverside area will be felt in the southwestern section of Riverside County, forecasters said.
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