Powerful winds will batter the Coachella Valley and Riverside County’s mountain areas this evening as a trough of low-pressure swings inland from the Pacific and interacts with the high-pressure system that pushed temperatures in the Coachella Valley into the triple digits, meteorologists said.
The gusty winds out of the west will begin to strengthen this evening, with the strongest winds likely late Wednesday evening into early Thursday, the National Weather Service said. The winds will weaken throughout the day Thursday.
The NWS issued a high wind warning that will go into effect at 8 p.m. Wednesday and last until 2 p.m. Thursday. The high wind warning signifies that a hazardous high wind event is expected and property damage is possible, with sustained winds of at least 40 mph and gusts of to 58 mph or stronger. It covers the mountains, the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning and most of the Coachella Valley, including Indio, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Palm Desert Country, La Quinta, Coachella and Desert Hot Springs.
Strongest winds will likely occur near mountain ridgetops and along desert mountain slopes into adjacent desert areas, with sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph, typical gusts up to 60 mph and isolated gusts up to 70 mph, the NWS said.
“The winds will make driving difficult, especially for motorists with high profile vehicles,” a NWS statement said. “This will impact portions of Interstate 10 through the San Gorgonio Pass and the Coachella Valley … In the deserts, areas of blowing dust and sand will reduce visibility at times. Watch for broken tree limbs and other debris.”
For the extreme eastern portion of Riverside County, including Blythe, a red flag warning is set to be in force Thursday from noon until 9 p.m..
“Fuels are very dry and fire danger is very high to extreme,” the NWS meteorologists said. “These conditions, combined with low relative humidity and strong winds, will lead to widespread hazardous fire weather conditions.”
In the Riverside metropolitan area, temperatures could drop by 10 to 15 degrees Wednesday thanks to the same low-pressure system that will create the powerful winds. The cooler weather Wednesday across the county follows two record-setting days of heat. On Monday, Idyllwild set a new heat record for the date while Riverside tied its old heat record, and on Tuesday, Thermal reached 102 degrees, breaking the old record of 99 degrees for the date set in 2014.
Highs Wednesday will be 78 to 83 in the Riverside metropolitan area, 71 to 80 in the mountains, 89 to 94 near the San Gorgonio Pass and around 96 in the Coachella Valley. There is a slight chance of light rain Wednesday evening west of the mountains.
Fair weather with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 80s are expected for Friday in the Coachella Valley, the first day of the 2018 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio. High temperatures in the Coachella Valley for the festival are expected to be 81 to 86 on Friday, 86 to 91 on Saturday and 91 on Sunday.