California: 'The Forecast for Tomorrow Is Purple'

Wind, fire dangers hit unprecedented level
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 7, 2017 5:17 AM CST

(Newser) – Southern California has felt yellow wind, orange wind, and red wind. But never purple wind. Until now. The color-coded system showing the expected strength of the winds driving the region's fierce wildfires has reached uncharted territory, pushing past red, which means "high," into the color that means "extreme." "The forecast for tomorrow is purple," says Ken Pimlott, director at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "We've never used purple before." As many as five fires have closed highways, schools, and museums, shut down production of TV series, and cast a hazardous haze over the region, the AP reports. About 200,000 people are under evacuation orders.

Firefighters have been struggling to get the blazes under control, but their hard-won gains could be erased Thursday. "We're talking winds that can surface that can be 80 miles an hour," Pimlott says. Such winds can instantly turn a tiny fire into a large one, or carry embers that spark new fires miles away. So far, no deaths and only a few injuries have been reported. The fires have hit areas including the beachside city of Ventura, where rows of homes were leveled, to the rugged foothills north of Los Angeles, where more than two dozen horses died at a boarding stable, to LA's exclusive Bel-Air neighborhood, where fire consumed multimillion-dollar houses.

(Read more California wildfires stories.)

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