Strong winds, low humidity in SoCal brings threat of wildfires

The Southland's unseasonably warm temperatures also brings the threat of wildfires because of dry vegetation, low humidity and strong Santa Ana winds.

A red flag warning, denoting an expectation of "critical fire weather conditions,'' will be in effect through early Sunday evening in most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, a National Weather Service statement said. The
red flag warning was issued mid-morning Friday, replacing a less serious fire weather watch.

The Los Angeles Fire Department reports it will pre-position additional resources in the San Fernando Valley, Mulholland corridor, West Los Angeles and Hollywood and will also bring additional staff on today.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department has positioned a strike team with five engines in Malibu and the Office of Emergency Services has a strike ready for action in Santa Clarita, according to county fire Supervising
Dispatcher Melanie Flores.

In the San Gabriel Mountains, Glendora Mountain and Glendora Ridge roads will be closed through Monday morning because of the red flag conditions, authorities said.

"Increasing offshore flow is expected Friday evening into early Saturday morning as high pressure builds into the Great Basin,'' an NWS statement said. "The strongest winds are expected late Friday night through
Saturday afternoon, but moderate northeast winds will likely persist through much of the day Sunday.''

The NWS said fire weather conditions between Friday night and early Sunday evening will result in part from "very dry vegetation'' caused by the drought. But winds will begin to subside Sunday evening, and humidity levels will rise early next week.

In the meantime, a red flag warning will be in force in Los Angeles County until 6 p.m. Sunday in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, and the coastal zone, which includes beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles, the downtown area and the Hollywood Hills.

The red flag warning will not apply to the San Gabriel and Antelope valleys but will be in effect in mountain, forest, valley and coastal areas of Ventura County.

Northeast winds of between 20 and 30 miles per hour will sweep across mountain and forest areas, gusting to 50 mph amid humidity levels of between 5 and 12 percent, NWS forecasters said.

In valley, coastal and urban areas, winds of between 15 and 25 mph are expected tonight, along with 35-mph gusts, increasing to 20 to 30 mph with 45-mph gusts this morning, also amid 5-12 percent humidity levels, they said.

"Conditions favorable for extreme fire behavior are likely if fire ignition occurs, which would result in danger to life and property,'' an NWS statement said.

Temperatures, meanwhile, will be roughly 10 degrees above normal, with highs reaching the low to mid 80s through the weekend.

On Friday, the hottest spots in Los Angeles County were Northridge, Pasadena and Van Nuys, where the highs all reached 88.

Today's National Weather Service forecast calls for highs of 88 in Long Beach; 87 in downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena; 86 in San Gabriel; 85 in Burbank and at Los Angeles International Airport; and 83 in Woodland Hills.

Temperatures will generally remain as they are on Sunday, then drop an estimated five degrees on Monday. An even sharper drop-off will begin Tuesday, when highs will revert to the 60s.

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