Santa Ana Winds Expected to Blow into Southland, Raise Fire Conditions

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Santa Ana winds are expected to blow across most of the Southland later this week, raising the threat of wildfires.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch that will be in place late Wednesday night through Friday evening. The watch covers the bulk of the Southland, including the metro Los Angeles area, Los Angeles County mountains, Angeles National Forest, Santa Monica Mountains Recreational area and the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, along with Orange County coastal and inland areas.

The fire weather watch does not include the Antelope Valley. The watch means that ``critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur.''

``A moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event will likely bring widespread critical fire weather conditions over most of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties late Wednesday night through early Friday evening,'' according to the NWS. ``Wind gusts between 45 and 70 mph are expected during the Thursday afternoon and evening peak. Minimum humidities in the 5 to 10 percent range will be common. With dry fuel conditions established, critical fire weather conditions are likely.''

Forecasters said they would decide Tuesday or Wednesday if the conditions warrant any red flag warnings of severe wildfire conditions.

In mountain areas, the NWS is forecasting northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph, with gusts up to 70 mph. In the valleys and metro areas, winds of 20 to 30 mph are expected, with gusts up to 55 mph.

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