Red Flag Warning Issued for Southern California for This Weekend

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Red flag warnings denoting a high risk of wildfires are in force today in two Southland mountain ranges, two forests and the Santa Clarita Valley because of above-normal temperatures, low humidity and strong winds, and forecasters said a threat of fire would extend into next week.

``Warm and very dry conditions will combine with gusty offshore winds to create elevated fire weather danger through Saturday,'' said a National Weather Service statement.

Red flag warnings will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, L.A. County's Angeles National Forest, Ventura County's Los Padres National Forest, and the Santa Clarita Valley in L.A. County. All these areas were named Thursday, except the Santa Monica mountains, which was added to the list this morning.

The NWS said the areas subject to red flag warnings are where the wind would be the strongest and last the longest.

In the mountains, forecasters expect sustained northeast winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour and gusts of 40 to 45 mph amid humidity levels as low as 8 percent by this afternoon in the Santa Monicas. The same conditions will prevail in the Santa Clarita Valley, the San Gabriel mountains and the forests, but the humidity level in those areas will be at 7 percent, they said.

``If fire ignition occurs, conditions are favorable for extreme fire behavior, which would threaten life and property,'' according to an NWS statement that urged members of the public to use ``extreme caution'' when lighting something.

The NWS announced this morning that the risk of fire would extend into next week, saying all the areas now under a red flag warning would be subject to a slightly less serious fire weather watch from Monday meeting through Tuesday morning.

Winds of between 15 and 25 mph gusting to 40 mph will sweep those areas as a new offshore-wind event gets underway Monday, and humidity levels will continue to be very low, NWS forecaster said, asserting that Monday's winds at times would be even stronger than those expected today,.

The NWS today issued a fire weather watch scheduled to be in effect from Monday morning through Tuesday morning in areas not currently under a red flag warning -- the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys and the Los Angeles coastal zone, which includes the coast, beach cities, metropolitan L.A. the downtown area and the Hollywood Hills.

While warnings have been announced for today, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, none had been issued for Sunday by late this morning.

Along the coast, a beach hazards statement -- a warning only a notch less severe than a high surf advisory -- will be in force through Sunday night. In L.A. County, including at Santa Catalina Island, surf of 4-6 feet is expected, along with some 7-foot sets, as a result of a south-southwest swell. In Orange County, surf of 4-7 feet is expected, along with sets of up to 8 feet.

NWS forecasters warned that ocean conditions will include dangerous rip currents, which can pull swimmers out to sea and cause drowning. If caught in a rip current, a swimmer should swim parallel to shore until able to break free.

Temperatures will run around 10 degrees higher than normal today and Saturday, NWS forecasters said after revising their forecast of Thursday that Saturday's highs would be 15 degrees above the norm.

The NWS forecast sunny skies in L.A. County today, along with highs of 84 in Avalon and on Mount Wilson; 86 at LAX; 87 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 92 in Downtown L.A; 93 in Long Beach and Saugus; 96 in San Gabriel and Burbank; 98 in Pasadena; and 99 in Woodland Hills. Saturday's highs will be roughly the same.

Sunny skies were also forecast in Orange County, along with highs of 74 in Newport Beach; 77 in San Clemente; 79 in Laguna Beach; 92 in Irvine; 93 in Anaheim; 94 in Mission Viejo; and 95 in Fullerton and Yorba Linda, with roughly similar highs in Saturday's forecast.

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