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Computer model projection of maximum wind gusts on Wednesday into Thanksgiving Day in the Los Angeles area. Darker reds correspond to 70 mph winds. (Weatherbell.com)

Southern California is facing an intense Santa Ana wind event over the Thanksgiving holiday, with "critical" wildfire risk since very little rain has fallen in this region so far this wet season.

Why it matters: Fire danger is forecast to be highest from Wednesday through Friday, and any wildfire that ignites could become a conflagration that’s difficult to stop.

Details: Red flag warnings are in effect for about 18 million people. The peak winds are expected Wednesday night through Thanksgiving Day.

  • Forecasters measure the intensity of Santa Ana events by the difference in air pressure between Los Angeles International Airport along the coast, and an obscure tower of weather instruments well inland, located in the tiny Mojave Desert community of Daggett.
  • The greater the forecast pressure difference, the stronger that dry, downslope winds are likely to howl through canyons and mountain passes, blowing from high pressure inland toward lower pressure closer to the coast.

Threat level: The forecasted pressure difference during this upcoming event puts it on the higher end of the scale.

  • Peak winds may reach 70 miles per hour at the same time relative humidity plunges into the single digits. Southern California Edison is notifying residents it may cut power to about 150,000 customers in advance of the winds to prevent wildfire ignitions.
  • The National Weather Service is warning residents and visitors who may be in the area for Thanksgiving to have a plan to evacuate on short notice: "Any new fire starts can spread rapidly!"

Go deeper

Flood-ravaged Pacific Northwest hit by more record rainfall

Satellite images taken last Friday of flooding in the Sumas Prairie to the east of Abbotsford in British Columbia, Canada, near the border with the U.S. Photo: Maxar Technologies

Rainfall records tumbled in Washington state on Thanksgiving night as the first of two atmospheric river events forecast for this week began threatening the Pacific Northwest, per the National Weather Service.

Why it matters: The region is still recovering from last week's atmospheric river that brought record rainfall, flooding and mudslides, with Washington and Canada's British Columbia particularly badly hit.

Burnout, money, concern drive Harris turnover

Vice President Kamala Harris and another potential 2024 presidential candidate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appeared together Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Burnout, better opportunities and concern about being permanently branded a "Harris person" is driving some of the turnover in Vice President Kamala Harris's office, people familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Harris is not only a heartbeat from the presidency but, by virtue of her office, the presumed 2024 frontrunner if President Biden doesn't seek re-election. There's been an inordinate amount of disarray — and, now, turnover — throughout her tenure.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."