The winds in Santa Ana are back, but the rain has dampened the risk of fire

Winds from Santa Ana are expected to blow over Los Angeles this weekend, carrying gusts of up to 30 to 40 miles per hour in the county’s valleys and mountains, officials said.

But thanks to Tuesday’s record-breaking storm and further possible rains on Thursday, the vegetation along the region’s slopes carries enough moisture to stave off forest fire threats, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Kittell.

Areas where the strongest winds are expected include the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys and the Santa Monica Mountains, places that are usually tinderboxes for flames in drier seasons.

Although the Santa Anas will air dry, temperatures will stay in line with recent winter weather trends, with lows in the 30s and 40s and slightly warmer 60s during the day, Kittell said.

A weak storm system also passed through California, hovering over Santa Barbara County on Thursday morning and scheduled to land in Los Angeles that afternoon. However, the closer the storm got to LA, the weaker it became, officials from the weather service said.

There won’t be rain in most places, Kittell said, and the places that do can expect about a tenth of an inch when the storm breaks Thursday night.

“Just enough to wet the ground,” he said.

Snow covered highway sign in Gorman on December 14th.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Although the recent rain and snow brought relief across California, ending another record-breaking wildfire season and the driest year in the state in a century, the rainfall was insufficient to rid California of its drought conditions.

Experts said the recent rain was a foretaste of a healthy, normal rainy year, but it would take more than normal to pull the state out of the drought. California’s water supply and snowpack in the southern Sierra Nevada remained significantly lower than normal.

Weather officials said southern California will get another helping of rain from Tuesday through Christmas Day.

Projections suggest that at least one major storm will hit the region with more rain.

“It’s just a pain figuring out where and how much,” said Kittell. “And it doesn’t look like we’re getting anything stronger than last week,” said Kittell.

One big cloud

Downtown Los Angeles as seen from Azusa as the storm hit the San Gabriel Valley on Tuesday.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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