Strong, damaging winds will buffet Riverside County today and may linger into Thursday and on through the weekend, forecasters said.
"North to northeast winds will continue to strengthen near the foothills as an upper-level disturbance intensifies over the desert southwest," according to a National Weather Service advisory. "The strong and gusty offshore winds will continue below passes and canyons through this evening, and possibly into Thursday evening as surface high pressure continues to build over the Great Basin."
The agency issued a high wind warning for the Inland Empire, mountain areas and the Coachella Valley until 10 p.m., and a less serious high wind watch for the mountains from late this evening to Thursday night.
A high wind watch is also scheduled for the Inland Empire from 10 a.m. Wednesday through 10 p.m. Thursday.
Sustained northeast winds of 15 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 60 mph are expected during today's high wind warning period, with occasional gusts of more than 70 mph through and below passes and canyons, according to the weather service.
Areas where high winds are expected include the vicinity of the Banning Pass, the Morongo Pass and the foothills and canyons of the Little San Bernardino mountains, according to NWS forecasters.
"The winds will make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles," an NWS advisory said. "Watch for broken tree limbs and downed power lines."
Mountain areas above 6,000 feet are also under a wind chill advisory until 9 a.m. A wind chill advisory means the combination of very cold air and strong winds will increase the risk for frost bite and hypothermia.
The wind is forecast to pick back up over the weekend, the NWS reported, however the chilly overnight temperatures are expected to warm a bit. Overnight lows are forecast in the high 30s to low 40s across Southwest Riverside County through the weekend, according to the NWS. Daytime highs will reach the high 50s today in Southwest Riverside County, but Wednesday will begin a warming trend, pushing the mercury to the low 70s under sunny skies. --City News Service; Toni McAllister contributed to this report