Winds Up To 50 MPH In Palm Desert Area Prompt Fire Warning

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PALM DESERT, CA — High temperatures and dry winds are expected to hit Southern California Wednesday, threatening power shut offs across the region for thousands and raising wildfire potential just in time for Thanksgiving. The possibility of strong Santa Ana winds prompted officials to issue a red flag warning for much of the Southland.

The Red Flag Warning will remain in place from 10 a.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Friday, the National Weather Service announced.

The extreme weather will elevate the potential for new wildfires to spark.

“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior,” weather service officials said.

The warning comes as Southern California Edison announced that roughly 98,705 customers in Southern California may find themselves without power between Wednesday and Friday. So far, Palm Desert appears to be spared from the alert, though that could change. Public Safety Power Shutoffs are issued to head off fire risk of potential downed power lines.

Residents living in the mentioned areas can expect Santa Ana winds ranging from 20-50 miles per hour. Those living below the Cajon, Santa Ana mountains and San Gorgonio passes may see isolated gusts up to 60 miles per hour.

Winds are predicted to be the strongest Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. The National Weather Services advised Coachella Valley Area residents that any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly, and residents were urged to avoid lighting campfires, using any mowing, weed-whacking or welding equipment, target shooting, driving near dry grass or smoking in areas with dry vegetation.

In 2021, some 8,367 wildfires have charred 3,083,507 acres in California. Three people have died in wildfires this year and 3,629 structures have been destroyed.

What’s more, lightning-sparked wildfires have killed thousands of giant sequoias this year, leading to a staggering two-year death toll that accounts for up to nearly a fifth of Earth’s largest trees, officials said in a previous interview.

Fires in Sequoia National Park and surrounding Sequoia National Forest tore through more than a third of groves in California and torched an estimated 2,261 to 3,637 sequoias, which are the largest trees by volume.

Patch Editor Kat Schuster and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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