Winds gusting to 65 mph were sweeping across Santa Barbara County’s South Coast early Thursday, most likely giving Santa Claus a bumpy ride as he made his rounds Christmas morning.

The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning through noon Thursday, forecasting cold north winds of 20 to 30 mph with abrupt gusts to 65 mph below canyons and passes on the South Coast.

Motorists were advised to use caution and to expect sudden, powerful gusts on Highway 101 along the Gaviota coast, on Highway 154 over San Marcos Pass and on Highway 192/East Valley Road through Montecito.

A gale warning is in effect in the Santa Barbara Channel through 9 a.m. Thursday, the weather service said. West to northwest winds of 20 to 30 knots with gusts to 35 knots, or 40 mph, are expected offshore.

Sunny skies are forecast for Christmas Day, but high temperatures are expected to top out in the upper 50s to mid-60s.

The weather service said temperatures are likely to plummet to the mid-30s to mid-40s overnight, with winds of 15 to 25 mph.

In response to the frigid conditions, organizers say five Freedom Warming Centers will be open for the homeless from 6 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday:

» Veterans Memorial Building , 941 Walnut Ave., Carpinteria

» University United Methodist Church, 892 Camino Del Sur, Isla Vista

» Peace Lutheran Church, 1000 W. Ocean Ave., Lompoc​

» Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1525 Santa Barbara St.

» Salvation Army, 200 W. Cook St., Santa Maria

Pets and couples are allowed, and there is no sobriety condition.

For more information, call the warming centers hotline at 805.324.2372.

» Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

» Click here for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Connect with the OES on Facebook.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.