Orange County seemed to be spared from the "once a decade type wind storm" that has toppled trees, overturned big rigs and knocked out power to 300,000 people in Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties overnight. But while the winds are dying down in those areas, they have started to kick up this morning in southern Orange County. And the National Weather Service delivers this warning: get used to it.
While perhaps not as severe as the 97 mph gusts that have hit other areas of Southern California, it's predicted the winds will increase in Orange County as the day drags on before dying down and being replaced by a weaker wind storm event Friday and into the weekend. The entire region is under a high-wind warning through 2 p.m. Friday and a red-flag wildfire warning until 3 p.m. that day.
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Gusts of 17-mph were reported in Mission Viejo at 7 a.m. today and a 27-mph blast passed through Foothill Ranch at midnight. The trees and branches may not be moving where you are right now, but forecasters claim that will change throughout Orange County by this afternoon.
The "a once a decade type wind storm" line came from meteorologist Ken Clark, AccuWeather.com's western U.S. expert, before the devastation hit the region. Powerful east to northeast winds also rocked San Francisco, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and far western Arizona.
One way to look at the winds is to picture Old Man Winter blowing in the initial blast carrying what's predicted to be a wetter winter than usual. The wind storm is already producing conditions ideal for natural and man-made snow to fall on ski resorts throughout the West.
AccuWeather.com's 2011-2012 Winter Forecast calls for significant rainfall and hefty snow dumps thanks to "Pineapple Express," the phenomenon that brings our coast a strong, persistent flow of tropical moisture from the Hawaiian islands.