Howling Santa Ana winds return to Southern California

High Wind and Red Flag warnings are in effect as of Tuesday night as roaring Santa Ana winds return to Southern California.

Parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties are under a high-fire-danger Red Flag Warning, meaning critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. 

The red flag warning will remain in effect through 7 p.m. Wednesday, as the strong winds -- fueled by high-pressure building into the Great Basin -- are expected to kick up during the overnight hours Tuesday.

A High Wind Warning will go into effect in San Bernardino and Riverside counties from until 10 p.m. Wednesday with wind gusts up to 60 mph expected in the area. 

Besides the LA County Mountains, areas expected to be affected include the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Malibu coast and the Santa Monica Mountains. The red flags also extend to much of Ventura County.

In the L.A. County Mountains, the NWS was forecasting damaging northeast winds with gusts peaking at 55 mph, to as high as 75 mph for wind-prone areas -- with the strongest winds staying through Wednesday afternoon.

Colder conditions will also bring low relative humidity numbers -- in the 8 to 18 percent ranges to the L.A. County Mountains -- that can be more conducive to fire conditions, the NWS said.

In the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Malibu coast and the Santa Monica Mountains, the weather service was calling for 40 to 60 mph winds, with gusts to 70 mph in the foothills, along with relative humidity levels of between 6 and 12 percent.

"If fire ignition occurs there could be rapid spread of wildfire that would lead to a threat to life and property," according to the weather service.

Meanwhile, the NWS also issued high wind warnings for the L.A. County Mountains through 7 p.m. Wednesday -- and through to 7 p.m. Wednesday for the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Malibu coast, the Santa Monica Mountains and much of Ventura County.

Winds in those areas will range from 25 to 45 mph, with gusts from 65 to 75 mph expected.

"Damaging winds will blow down large objects such as trees and power lines," the weather service warned. "Power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles."

"People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches," the agency added. "If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows."