Relief in Sight for California Firefighters

Despite weakening Santa Ana winds, the fire danger will remain extremely high across Southern California until a shift to onshore flow Tuesday allows for a rise in humidity levels and a fall in temperatures. Since Thursday night, fires have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced the evacuation of over 10,000 people.

So Cal Brea Fire

Thousands of fire fighters continue to battle the wildfires that ignited starting Thursday night in Southern California. Santa Ana winds kicked in early Friday and aided in fanning the flames over the weekend as new fires developed.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the latest "Triangle Complex" fire, which includes the "Freeway Fire" that started Saturday morning, has burned approximately 10,475 acres. Over 100 residences across Orange and Riverside counties in California have been damaged or destroyed.

Despite the efforts of 600 fire personnel, there was no containment on the fire as of midday Sunday. More than 3,500 structures continue to be threatened, and evacuations are in place for neighborhoods in Yorba Linda and Brea.

"Sayre Fire" started Friday night in the foothills above Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley and has since spread westward across an area estimated at nearly 9,500 acres.

Over 1,000 firefighting personnel from over 100 fire companies have responded, gaining about 30 percent containment on this fire. One civilian was reported to have sustained serious injuries.

Progress has been made on portions of the "Tea Fire," now 75 percent contained, which has been blazing since Thursday evening. This fire has singed just under 2,000 acres and destroyed over 200 residences. This fire now only poses a minimal threat to structures.

A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

There have not been any fatalities, but it is feared that bodies will be found in some of the burnt out houses, mobile homes and cars.

Gusty Santa Ana winds that hindered fire fighting efforts on Saturday weakened today.

The West Regional News story reports that the Santa Ana winds developed in response to a strong gradient between an area of high pressure building over the Great Basin and low pressure in place along the California coast.

While winds will continue to weaken tonight as the high weakens and moves farther east into the Rockies, low humidities and unseasonably warm temperatures will keep the fire danger extremely high through Monday. Numerous fire and wind-related warnings and advisories are in effect.

A return to onshore flow Tuesday into Wednesday will allow for a decrease in temperatures and increase in humidity, which will reduce the fire threat.

Temperatures broke records Saturday across Oregon and dozens of locations across California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and Napa.

In contrast to the warmth across the West, cold air continues to dive southward through the Midwest and into the Southeast. The Midwest Regional News story reports that the cold air whipping across the Great Lakes will continue to allow for lake-effect snow through Tuesday.

Rain showers quickly changed over to snow across the Great Lakes Saturday night as cold air advanced through the region. By Sunday afternoon, lake-effect snow squalls had dumped around 5 inches of snow in parts of Michigan.

Some locations along the leeward shores of the lakes could have as much as a foot of snow by Monday, while snow showers spread elsewhere across the Great Lakes region into the Appalachians. Some snow showers will make it as far south as the mountains of North Carolina and northern Tennessee Monday.

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