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Weaker winds expected as fire crews continue to battle Thomas fire

As the Thomas fire continues to rage, burning more than 200,000 acres, wind speeds are expected to be on the lower end of what’s been seen over the last week, forecasters say.

Over Sunday night and into Monday morning, there were wind gusts of around 20 mph across the lower mountains and foothills in the region of southeastern Santa Barbara County into southwestern Ventura County.

“Wind was probably not the biggest factor last night to this morning — it’s probably more the complex terrain, very dry and possibly widespread fuels for the fire and the fact that it’s a pretty large and ongoing fire,” said Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“The light offshore winds are certainly a factor, but not as important as they’ve been, say, earlier in the week when we saw much stronger winds over the fire.”

The strongest winds are expected more toward the Ventura-Los Angeles County line, Munroe said.

“Even that is not expected to be particularly strong, but since it’s so dry out there it doesn’t take much in the way of winds to create those critical fire weather conditions,” he said. “We’ll see wind gusts in that … area between 20 and 35 mph, maybe a few mountain sites might see up to about 40, but that’s the most we’re expecting right now.”

The winds near the Thomas fire might be a little bit stronger later on Monday night into early Tuesday morning from the north, Munroe said, possibly 5 mph stronger.

“Right now it doesn’t look too terribly strong, but really any increase in wind is something to watch out for given this fire’s history.”

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