Strong winds from Monday night helped fan the Alisal Fire north of Santa Barbara, which has burned thousands of acres and is uncontained as of noon today. It even jumped the 101 freeway to the Pacific Ocean, shutting down that freeway.
But these are not the Santa Ana winds. The region experienced what’s called an inside slider, according to Bill Patzert, a retired climatologist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. That’s a low-pressure system that typically travels from the north, to the south, to the east, and then eventually to us.
He adds that the Alisal Fire was started by dry lightning strikes (lightning without rain), which is unusual for the region.
The strong winds also picked up lots of dust, which prompted dust storms in some areas, including the Antelope Valley, where major roads closed. Patzert says that’s because significant rainfall hasn’t happened in the last seven months.
He adds that later this week, Southern California should expect actual Santa Ana winds and temperatures that might rise 10-20 degrees.