LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Red flag warnings signifying a high risk of wildfire are in force Friday in mountain, forest and valley areas of Southern California because of gusty high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.
The red flag warnings are scheduled to be followed Saturday morning with slightly less serious fire weather watches, which are now scheduled to be in effect through Sunday.
In L.A. County, the red flag warnings are in effect in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. They are also in effect in large parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
The same areas will be covered by Saturday's fire weather watch, along with the San Gabriel Valley, the coast, beach cities, metropolitan L.A. and the Hollywood Hills.
In the San Gabriel Mountains in L.A. and Ventura counties, the Interstate 5 corridor will be especially vulnerable, National weather Service forecasters said, reporting gusts of 35 and 45 miles per hour.
"If fire ignition occurs, there will be the potential for rapid spread of wildfire and extreme fire behavior that would lead to a threat to life and property,'' warned an NWS statement.
The winds in mountain areas were blowing at 15 to 40 mph with 40-mph gusts today and expected to increase to 20-30 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph Saturday morning, when they'll turn into Santa Anas, which are warmer and more widespread.
NWS meteorologist Kurt Caplan said this morning he expects fire weather watches Saturday to be upgraded to red flag warnings in some areas, including the San Gabriel mountains.
The NWS forecast sunny weather in L.A. County today and highs of 74 degrees on Mount Wilson; 75 in Avalon; 76 at LAX; 78 in Long Beach; 80 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 82 in Saugus; 83 in San Gabriel and Burbank; 84 in Pasadena; and 88 in Woodland Hills.
In Orange County, partly cloudy skies were expected along the coast but sunny skies were in the forecast in the county's inland sections. Also forecast were highs of 69 in Laguna Beach; 70 in San Clemente; 73 in Newport Beach; 79 in Anaheim, Irvine and Mission Viejo; and 80 in Fullerton and Yorba Linda.
Temperatures will climb Saturday and Sunday, when highs will reach 92 in Downtown L.A., 96 in Yorba Linda and 98 in Woodland Hills. Temperatures will begin retreating Monday and drop especially sharply on Wednesday -- 12 degrees in Woodland Hills and eight degrees in Yorba Linda and Fullerton -- though they'll remain in the 70s.