LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Much of Southern California remains under threat of wildfire today amid strong Santa Ana winds and low humidity.
Santa Ana winds, which were largely confined to the mountains and deserts Tuesday, are expected to strengthen and become more widespread this morning, “when critical fire weather conditions are expected across many portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties,'' warned the National Weather Service.
One factor exacerbating the threat is the dryness of the vegetation following a weekend heat wave of unprecedented severity.
A red flag warning denoting a high risk of wildfire will be in effect until 8 p.m. in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains, the Angeles National Forest and the adjoining mountains and forests in Ventura County, the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, so-called coastal areas of L.A. County, including beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles, and the Hollywood Hills, and Orange County's Santa Ana Mountains and inland cities.
Humidity levels will be at a low 5-15 percent, according to the NWS, while in the mountains forecasters are expecting winds of 25 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 60 mph.
“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,'' according to the NWS.
Also in effect -- until 3 p.m. in the same areas where the red flag warning is in force -- will be a wind advisory.
“Gusty winds will blow around unsecured objects and make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles,'' warned an NWS statement. “Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.''
Sunny skies were forecast everywhere in L.A. County today, along with highs of 79 on Mount Wilson; 83 in Avalon; 85 at LAX; 88 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 91 in Downtown L.A., Long Beach, Pasadena and Saugus; 92 in San Gabriel; 94 in Burbank; and 96 in Woodland Hills. As of this morning, roughly the same temperatures are expected at least through Tuesday.
A combination of smoky and partly cloudy skies was forecast in Orange County today, along with highs of 75 on Santiago Peak; 82 in San Clemente; 83 in Laguna Beach and on Ortega Highway at 2,600 feet; 85 in Newport Beach; 89 at Fremont Canyon; 91 at Trabuco Canyon and in Yorba Linda; 92 in Fullerton and Anaheim; 93 in Mission Viejo; and 94 in Irvine. As in L.A. County, temperatures will remain at these levels at least through Tuesday.
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