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Thanksgiving in LA begins with storm warnings

Fallen trees and thousands of people without power. Thanksgiving in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties began with a red flag warning and hot, dry Santa Ana wind gusts expected to peak Thursday afternoon and ease into Friday morning.

A high wind warning is in effect until 3:00 p.m. for the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Ventura Valleys, and the mountains of Santa Monica and Los Angeles County. Winds of up to 60 to 75 mph are expected in more mountainous areas, with a particularly windy hotspot between Santa Clarita and Burbank — known as the Magic Mountain Truck Trail — hitting 91 mph as early as 8 a.m. Thursday.

Wind conditions, even after peaking, are expected to remain fairly gusty through 11 a.m. Friday. Weather officials advised fire-prone communities to remain vigilant.

“The risk of fire will remain until tomorrow,” said Ryan Kittell, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “Although winds will peak today and gradually decrease into tomorrow, they will still be windy enough by morning – and the air will still be dry enough to cause this increased risk of fire.”

Those winds mark the third event in Santa Ana in a week after strong gusts overturned semi-trucks, damaged electrical equipment and ignited a fire at a Fontana pallet yard.

As a precaution, thousands of Edison customers in Southern California in areas on high alert — including southern Ventura County, a northwest portion of Los Angeles County and an area along the 215 corridor in Riverside County — could lose power Thursday, depending on how the wind will be strong, according to spokesman David Song.

As of 2:30 p.m., more than 4,200 customers in Riverside County and 3,150 customers in Ventura County were subjected to a temporary, proactive “public safety power shutdown.” Live updates will be provided on the utility’s outage map and Song said the “time of concern” for high winds is expected to ease by 6pm

Santa Ana winds, the infamous, often devastating winds that mark a distinctly Californian season, tend to wreak havoc each fall when a dome of cold, high-pressure air develops over Nevada and the Great Basin area. This high pressure forces the air to expand in all directions, including over the mountains and toward southern California.

Instead of a coastal breeze blowing from the ocean toward land, Los Angeles wind conditions are reversed during these high-pressure events: Santa Anas blows super-fast and overheats, plummeting down the mountainsides, swirling up the foothills, and taking down trees as it makes its way to the ocean tracks.

Because of this reversal, the temperatures typical of Southern California’s various microclimates are also reversed. Beach towns along the Los Angeles and Ventura coasts are expected to experience warmer, sunnier weather Thursday and Friday, with temperatures ranging in the mid-70s and below 80s. The mountains and deserts, on the other hand, remain cooler and in the mid-60s.

Temperatures are expected to cool across the region through Saturday, with temperatures hovering in the mid 60s to low 70s. There’s also a chance of light rain on Monday and Tuesday, but officials said weather models are still too far away to make a more accurate forecast.