California winter: heat wave, high winds, fire danger. Why this is happening

Southern California has recently experienced high temperatures and strong Santa Ana winds. Image by rpnickson from Pixabay

California is in the middle of a severe wind warning right now — 65 to 90 mph gusts are being recorded. That’s in hurricane territory. Winds this strong can topple trees, cause blackouts, and spread wildfires, which they’re already doing in Northern California.

Typically by mid-winter, mountain ranges and grasslands have been wetted down by seasonal rain. But this year, there are record-breaking temperatures, instead.

Oakland recorded its highest January temperature ever this week. Ventura County is breaking temperature records as well. In Southern California, the high temperatures paired with strong Santa Ana winds have firecrews on high alert.

Credits

Guest:
Noah Diffenbaugh - Professor with Stanford University's Department of Earth System Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. - @StanfordEarth

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser