Fire Weather Threatens Southland

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Red flag warnings denoting a high risk of wildfire will be in effect in the Southland today and Wednesday because of low humidity, strong Santa Ana winds, and vegetation left at “critical levels'' of dryness in the aftermath of a “historic heat wave.''

A red flag warning will be in force from noon today until 8 p.m. Wednesday in the mountains and valleys of L.A. and Ventura counties and from 3 a.m. Wednesday until 8 p.m. Wednesday in areas closer to the coast, according to the National Weather Service.

“Gusty Santa Ana winds with very low humidities will bring widespread critical fire weather conditions to Ventura and Los Angeles counties Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday,'' warned an NWS statement. “The strongest Santa Ana winds are expected Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Fuels after this historic heat wave will be at critical levels as we enter into the Santa Ana wind event.''

North-to-northeast winds of 20 to 40 miles per hour are expected today and Wednesday, along with gusts of 55 and 60 mph amid highs in the 90s and humidity levels of 5-15 percent, according to a NWS statement.

“If fire ignition occurs, conditions will be favorable for rapid fire spread, long range spotting, and extreme fire behavior, which would threaten life and property. In addition to the threat of a wind-driven fire, there is a significant threat of large plume dominated fires with extreme fire behavior in areas where winds are lighter.''

The red flag warning will be in effect in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, L.A. County beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills, the San Gabriel and Santa mountains, the Angeles National Forest and inland Orange County.

Also issued was a wind advisory from noon today until 3 p.m. Wednesday in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains, the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, coastal cities, metropolitan Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills, with northeast winds of 25 to 40 miles per hour expected, along with gusts of up to 55-60 mph. In the Antelope Valley ... the wind advisory will be in effect from noon to 7 p.m. today.

“Gusty winds will blow around unsecured objects and make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles,'' warned the NWS. “Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result. Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high-profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.''

Partly cloudy skies were forecast everywhere in L.A. County today, along with highs of 74 degrees in Long Beach; 80 at LAX; 81 in Avalon; 83 on Mount Wilson; 84 in Downtown L.A.; 86 in San Gabriel; 88 in Pasadena and Burbank; 91 in Palmdale; 92 in Woodland Hills and Lancaster; and 93 in Saugus. A warming trend is expected during the week. ushering highs in the high 90s and low 100s by Sunday.

In Orange County, partly cloudy skies were forecast over coastal cities but sunshine was expected in inland areas, along with highs of 74 in Newport Beach; 75 in Laguna Beach; 76 on Santiago Peak; 77 in San Clemente; 81 on Ortega Highway at 2,600 feet; 84 in Fullerton; 85 at Fremont Canyon; 86 in Anaheim and Irvine; 87 in Yorba Linda; and 88 in Mission Viejo and at Trabuco Canyon. A warming trend is expected over the coming days, and highs will be in the low to mid 90s by Monday.

The NWS reported today that a high of 109 degrees was reached Monday at Palmdale airport, breaking the record for a Sept. 7, and the 109 recorded at Lancaster Fox Field tied the record set in 1955.

Photo: Getty Images

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