Red Flag warning in force for mountains of LA, high fire risk

A red flag warning is in force in the Los Angeles mountain areas and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley areas today through tomorrow evening as dry, windy conditions have created an elevated risk of wildfire, forecasters said.

National Weather Service forecasters have also issued a fire weather watch for the Los Angeles coast from Malibu to Hollywood Hills through Friday afternoon for gusty northeast winds and very low humidity.

Meanwhile, several hours of freezing temperatures are expected this morning in the Antelope Valley, where a hard freeze warning went into effect at 1 a.m. and was scheduled to expire at 9 a.m.

A hard freeze warning indicates that temperatures of 28 degrees Fahrenheit or less are expected for at least two consecutive hours. Forecasters said the cold results in part from a cold air mass parked over the region and warned that hard freeze conditions threaten plants and animals, which should be taken indoors -- a home for pets, a barn for domestic animals -- to protect them against hypothermia. Additionally, "exposed pipes should be wrapped to keep them from freezing," an NWS statement said.

Strong northeast Santa Ana winds are expected, NWS forecasters said, adding they will create warm, dry and windy conditions through Saturday.

Between this morning and Friday, 50 mph gusts are expected, NWS forecasters said.

"Fire weather conditions will ... likely reach critical thresholds between Thursday and Friday as warm temperatures, strong winds and low humidities develop across Los Angeles and Ventura counties," an NWS statement said.

The strongest expected winds will occur between tonight and Friday morning -- a period when the humidity level is expected to drop to between 5 and 10 percent, it said.

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