Strong winds lashed parts of the Inland Empire Monday, making driving conditions a challenge and causing temperatures to feel much lower on the final day of 2018.

Northerly winds blowing over 20 mph began about noon as a cold trough of low pressure settled over the Great Basin in eastern Nevada.

The offshore flow prompted the National Weather Service to issue a High Wind Warning, in effect through 2 a.m. Wednesday.

“Visibility (may be) locally reduced in blowing dust,” according to the NWS. “Impacts include tree damage (and) difficult driving.”

The strongest Santa Ana winds were predicted Tuesday morning, with peak gusts of 65 mph possible in some areas.

The California Highway Patrol posted a Wind Advisory for the northern Inland Empire about 12:30 p.m., noting that high-profile vehicles traveling along Interstate 15 and surrounding freeways and roads might be at risk.

CHP officers reported a number of wind-related hazards, including bales of hay blowing loose on northbound I-15 at the junction for Interstate 210 in Rancho Cucamonga, tumbleweeds and debris disrupting travel at other locations.

With temperatures peaking about 60 degrees, the wind chill factor made it feel much colder in the Riverside metropolitan area and elsewhere regionally.

There was a slight chance of precipitation near the foothills and mountains of Riverside County into Tuesday, though accumulations were expected to be minimal. Snow levels were forecast to fall to 5,000 feet.

Along with the High Wind Warning, the Weather Service issued a Freeze Watch for Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Low temperatures were expected to dip to 30 degrees, increasing the likelihood of damage to some plant life, including commercial citrus groves in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to the NWS.

Forecasters advised growers to take necessary precautions.

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