Santa Ana winds fuel growing California wildfire

Gusty Santa Ana winds, dry conditions and single-digit humidity in Southern California offered no relief Thursday to firefighters battling one of the largest wildfires in state history.

The Thomas Fire, covering 242,500 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, now covers more area than New York City. It was 30% contained Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as CalFire.

“The winds will be kicking up quickly today and the offshore winds will once again bring the relative humidity critically low,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. “This will make the situation much tougher on the over 8,000 fire personnel fighting this fire.”

“We could certainly see that 30% containment number go down as the fire responds to the stronger Santa Ana winds than what we have seen the past couple of days,” he said.

One of six major wildfires burning in Southern California, the Thomas Fire is already the fourth largest in California history and is growing, CalFire said. Nearly 1,000 fire engines and 27 helicopters are involved in battling the blaze, the agency said.

Winds were expected to be fierce Thursday morning, with gusts stronger than 60 mph in the Los Angeles mountains and more typical gusts of 35 to 50 mph in the valleys and coastal areas.

Fire threatened the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito, according to CalFire. Crews were working to build fire lines north of those areas.

The Thomas fire broke out December 4 in Ojai, northwest of Los Angeles. Aided by the strong Santa Ana winds, it quickly spread to the city of Ventura, according to the federal InciWeb fire information website.

More than 1,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed in the Thomas Fire, and another 18,000 structures are threatened, CalFire said.

At least 95,000 residents have been evacuated in Southern California, CalFire said.

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Another cold front dips temperatures into 40s in South Florida, 50s in Keys

“Baby it’s cold outside.”

Low temperatures Thursday morning were 49 degrees in Fort Lauderdale, 51 degrees in Miami and 55 degrees in Key West.

“That’s how you know it’s cold, when we’re talking temperatures in the 50s for the Keys,” Local 10 News meteorologist Julie Durda said.

Key West saw the most drastic temperature change overnight. Durda said Thursday’s low temperature was 12 degrees cooler than Wednesday morning’s low.

Temperatures were 10 degrees cooler in Homestead, 9 degrees cooler in Marathon, 7 degrees cooler in Pompano Beach, 6 degrees cooler in Miami and 3 degrees cooler in Fort Lauderdale.

“Our temperatures will stay chilly throughout the morning,” Durda said. “By the afternoon, all that sunshine will bring our temperatures up to the lower 70s.”

Another cold front was making its way across Florida, but Durda said it is expected to stall out north of Lake Okeechobee.

“If you’ve enjoyed the 50s and the 40s for overnight lows, it will be a thing of the past,” Durda said. “Our lows will get back into the 60s and low 70s for the weekend and next week.”

Be sure to download the WPLG Local 10 Weather app to receive the latest and most accurate information about severe weather where you live and work. You can find it by searching “WPLG Local 10 Weather” in your iTunes or Google Play app stores.

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Miami morning low of 48 degrees sets new record

It’s been 687 days since the last time Miami had a morning temperature of 48 degrees or lower.

The National Weather Service in Miami said Tuesday’s morning low set a new record.

“So the streak is over,” Local 10 News meteorologist Julie Durda said.

Temperatures in Miami also dropped below 50 degrees Tuesday for the first time since Jan. 24, 2016.

Sunday was a record-setting day in Fort Lauderdale, where the high temperature was just 62 degrees. That surpassed the previous record of 63 degrees set in 1981.

“So this is a significant cold front,” Durda said.

There will be a gradual warm up throughout the day thanks to the South Florida sunshine.

High temperatures are expected to top out in the low 70s.

“We are expecting another chill because another front will be moving in,” Durda said. 

Be sure to download the WPLG Local 10 Weather app to receive the latest and most accurate information about severe weather where you live and work. You can find it by searching “WPLG Local 10 Weather” in your iTunes or Google Play app stores.

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How long will cool temperatures linger in South Florida?

Another chilly day is on tap for South Florida, but just how long will these cooler temperatures linger?

Temperatures dipped into the 40s early Tuesday in parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It was slightly warmer in the Florida Keys, where low temperatures were in the 50s.

High temperatures are forecast to top out in the low 70s.

“We have a front expected to move in by tonight and into tomorrow,” bringing another shot of cooler temperatures to the region, Local 10 News meteorologist Julie Durda said.

It was even chillier in Florida college towns like Gainesville and Tallahassee, where low temperatures were in the 30s.

The cool conditions in South Florida will be accompanied by the more familiar sunny skies. Then the front moves through.

“If you like this morning, you’re going to enjoy the next four mornings,” Durda said.

After the next front, temperatures are expected to rebound as the week progresses, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. 

“And then we’ll see another front move in,” Durda said.

So don’t go putting away the jackets just yet.

Be sure to download the WPLG Local 10 Weather app to receive the latest and most accurate information about severe weather where you live and work. You can find it by searching “WPLG Local 10 Weather” in your iTunes or Google Play app stores.

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California wildfires have destroyed 1,000 structures … and counting

One week after the Thomas Fire exploded from a brush fire to a raging inferno, hundreds of firefighters made some headway Monday in their struggle to contain it.The blaze is larger than all of New York City and about 20% contained as of Monday evening,…

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