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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A spell of blustery Santa Ana winds coupled with a significant warming trend will heighten San Diego-area wildfire hazards — potentially to near-critical levels — for the remainder of the work week, meteorologists advised Wednesday.

The strongest of the expected dry air currents out of the east and northeast Thursday and Friday will occur along and near local coastal slopes of the region’s mountains and below passes and canyons, with the strongest gusts reaching speeds of about 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

“It’s going to be downright hot on Thursday and Friday,” said Alex Tardy, meteorologist for the National Weather Service San Diego. 

Over the period, temperatures west of the mountains will be 10 to 20 degrees above seasonal norms through Saturday. Atmospheric humidity in inland areas will fall to 15% to 20% on Thursday and Friday, and to 10% to 15% on Saturday, forecasters said.

Meteorologists predict Southern California will have a La Niña winter, meaning it likely will get dry and windy conditions through the rest of the year.

That creates a recipe for wildfires, according to Tardy, but Cal Fire San Diego said crews are ready.

“If anything does happen, then we start competing for resources and that becomes a challenge,” Cal Fire San Diego Capt. Thomas Shoots said. “Right now, we are looking good. We are well-staffed in San Diego and well prepared.”

The Santa Ana conditions are predicted to weaken and become less widespread Friday afternoon and Saturday, with cooler but still above-average temperatures and increasing humidity by Sunday and into early next week.

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