Powerful winds gusting to 50 mph were pounding Santa Barbara County’s South Coast late Wednesday. A high wind advisory is in effect until 9 p.m. Thursday.
The National Weather Service said northwest to north winds are expected to increase across the region Thursday as a result of a strengthening northwest flow and an influx of colder air. Winds of 25 to 35 mph are forecast with gusts in excess of 50 mph below canyons and passes of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Authorities warned motorists to use caution, especially on Highway 101 along the Gaviota coast and on Highway 154 over San Marcos Pass.
Gale-force winds are expected in the Santa Barbara Channel through early Friday, and area beaches are at high risk for dangerous rip currents.
Thursday’s forecast calls for sunny conditions and high temperatures in the low 70s. Thursday night will see mostly clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s.
Warmer temperatures will make for a pleasant Easter weekend, with daytime temperatures in the mid-70s through Monday.
A slight chance of showers is in Wednesday’s forecast, the weather service said.
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