LOS ANGELES - A "damaging" wind event is expected to arrive in the Southland Tuesday, bringing powerful gusts and increased fire danger to parts of the region, prompting warnings of possible power outages and calls for residents to be prepared to evacuate should blazes erupt.
Officials say possible power outages and calls for residents to be prepared to evacuate in case of fires erupting.
The Los Angeles County and city fire departments are on standby and gearing up for the wind event, pre-deploying resources.
The Los Angeles Fire Department has three task forces stationed in the valleys, while the county fire department ordered "additional staffing and pre-deployment of resources throughout the county."
"Very strong and damaging northeast winds will be possible late Monday night into Wednesday, especially across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties," according to the National Weather Service.
"Damaging wind gusts of 60 to 80 mph are expected across portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties during the peak, as well as the higher elevations of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties."
Forecasters said humidity levels are expected to remain above 15% in most areas, but the fire danger will still be high.
A fire weather watch has been issued for most of the Southland, but by midday, forecasters upgraded it to a red flag warning that'll be in effect from 10 p.m. Monday through at least 10 p.m. Tuesday.
"There will be an increased risk of fire ignitions due to downed trees and power lines, along with a threat of rapid-fire spread and extreme fire behavior," the NWS said.
The red flag warning will be in effect for the Los Angeles coastal region, Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Los Angeles County Mountains, Angeles National Forest, the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
A red flag warning will also be in effect during the same hours in inland Orange County, the Santa Ana Mountains and the Cleveland National Forest.
By Monday night, the mountain gusts could reach 70 mph, and 75 mph by Tuesday, according to the NWS. Orange County will feel strong winds as well, with gusts up to 55 mph Monday night and 60 mph Tuesday.
The weather service says there might be a slight chance of rain and snow showers across the mountains of eastern Los Angeles County Monday night through Tuesday night.
Due to the winds and low relative humidity, a period of elevated to brief critical fire weather conditions was declared for LA and Ventura counties through at least Monday night, the NWS said.
The NWS also said the high winds might prompt Southern California Edison to issue Public Safety Power Shutoffs, in which electricity is turned off for customers in wind-prone areas to prevent the possibility of downed power lines sparking wildfires.
A map of the utility's PSPS plans is available at www.sce.com/wildfire/psps.
The strong winds early this week will be accompanied by a significant drop in temperatures, with highs in the upper 60s and 70s in the greater Los Angeles area on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, then dropping into the upper 60s on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management issued a statement Monday saying the agency will be on "high alert" due to the wind and fire conditions.
The agency's director, Kevin McGowan, urged residents to be prepared for dangerous conditions.
"Our emergency response officials are world-class and will stand ready to defend lives and property," he said. "But, we need collaboration from all residents who live in LA County to stay safe as a region. We must all do our part by staying informed and being ready to evacuate at a moment's notice, especially if you live in the canyon, mountain or foothill communities."
McGowan urged residents to have an evacuation plan in place and be prepared by taking steps such as parking vehicles facing the street and on driveways-- not in garages that may not be accessible if electric garage door openers become inoperable in an outage.
The high winds might prompt Southern California Edison to issue Public Safety Power Shutoffs, in which electricity is turned off for customers in wind-prone areas to prevent the possibility of downed power lines sparking wildfires.
A cold weather alert was issued for the Antelope Valley effective from Monday through Friday, and for the L.A. County mountains on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said below-freezing temperatures are expected in those areas overnight and warned that "children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don't get too cold when they are outside."
Residents were also warned not to leave pets outside at night.
A high surf advisory in effect at Los Angeles County beaches through 10 p.m. Tuesday.