California Wildfires Blamed on Unusual Santa Ana Winds

By: Alicia Chang, AP
By: Alicia Chang, AP

Wildfires breaking out across Southern California are being fueled by stronger than usual Santa Ana winds roaring out of the region's canyons, scientists said Monday.

The fires have killed at least one person, burned thousands of acres and forced hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes.

The powerful, dry winds typically blow between October and February and peak in December.

A stubborn high-pressure system over the Great Basin, the vast expanse of desert that covers much of Nevada, Utah and southern Idaho, fanned at least seven major wildfires this weekend and was expected to last through Tuesday. Typically, Santa Ana conditions last about a day.

"For it to be this strong for so many days is unusual," said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

California has been bone-dry this year and many communities have imposed water use restrictions.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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