By MAX GOLEMBO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Gusty, dry and warm winds Tuesday of 50 to 71 mph in Southern California helped to dry the vegetation and spread several brush fires that flared up in Ventura County but, thankfully, the forward spread of fires was stopped Tuesday night.
These warm winds pushed temperatures to near records and Santa Barbara, California, tied a record at 80 degrees.
On Wednesday, the fire danger improves in California as winds relax a bit.
Attention now turns to a new storm system that is expected to move across the country with heavy snow, thunderstorms and heavy rain.
The storm will enter the southern Rockies and the Southwest later Wednesday into Thursday with snow and rain spreading into the region.
A winter storm watch has been posted for New Mexico where some areas could see up to a foot of snow.
By Friday, the storm system will intensify and move into the Plains with heavy snow from Colorado to northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan and, to the south, heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected.
On Saturday, the cold air will wrap into the storm system changing rain to snow, even in Chicago.
At this point it is too early to say how much snow is expected in Chicago but some places in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and central Michigan could see more than a half a foot of snow.
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