Approaching heat wave plus Santa Ana winds: Dangerous recipe for fires

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Temperatures will top 100 degrees for several days over much of Southern California. Even the coast won’t get much relief. To make matters worse, hot and dry winds will be picking up, which could exacerbate fire weather conditions.

KTLA-Channel 5 meteorologist Vera Jimenez says that the heat wave will continue during the evening this weekend, which can be dangerous to human health.

“The danger is that during those overnight hours on Saturday and Sunday, the temperatures aren’t going to come down enough. And so it’s during the overnight hours when our bodies are allowed to destress from the heat,” she says. “And when we don’t have the opportunity to destress from the heat, our bodies get overwhelmed, and that’s when we’re susceptible to heatstroke and to all of the dangers of overheating our bodies.”

On top of that, Jimenez says there’s reason to be concerned about wildfires because of the weekend’s winds.

“It will mimic a Santa Ana wind event and … generally what happens is especially in areas where brush, the grasses, the trees are dry because of lack of rain … it starts to heat up the fuels, like the grasses and brush. … That is likely to catch fire quicker than something that is cool. … If something were to spark, that’s enough to spread the fire.” 

But people can take certain actions to help prevent a fire, Jimenez explains. “There isn’t enough energy to produce lightning strikes, so it’s all about what we do that is going to determine whether or not these fires go off or not. So we need to remember to be careful. And if you can live without the AC for a while, live without the AC, so we don’t overload the system so we don’t have blackouts or transformers blowing.” 

LA County has cooling centers across the region in preparation for this weekend's heat wave. You can find more information about dates, location, and hours of operation here