Santa Ana Winds Returning To Southland; Red Flag Warnings Possible

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Santa Ana winds will make a return to the Southland this week, bringing the region a taste of warm winter weather but also raising the risk of wildfires with gusty and dry conditions.

Winds began building Wednesday afternoon in some areas, most notably in the western San Fernando Valley, where gusts of 35 to 45 mph were reported, according to the National Weather Service. A high pressure system was building and advancing into the area, and forecasters said it will bring warm and dry conditions, pushing humidity levels down starting Thursday afternoon, possibly into the 5 to 15% range.

The dry conditions are expected to continue into at least Saturday.

“Meanwhile, gusty north to northeast wind gusts between 20 and 35 mph will continue over the wind prone areas today (Wednesday), then increase to between 25 and 45 mph tonight through Thursday leading to fairly widespread elevated fire weather conditions,'' according to the NWS. “These winds should increase again with gusts between 35 and 50 mph Thursday evening into Friday morning, then persist through Saturday except for a brief lull later Friday.

“There is a growing chance for red flag conditions over the Los Angeles and Ventura County mountains and valleys Thursday night through Friday when the winds and dry air align, which may persist into Saturday.''

A decision on whether to issue a red flag warning in the Los Angeles area was expected Wednesday afternoon. A red flag warning has already been declared in inland Orange County and the Santa Ana mountains, in effect from 4 p.m. Thursday until 4 p.m. Friday.

Forecasters said winds are expected to die down Saturday night through Sunday, but they'll pick up again Monday through Tuesday or Wednesday, “with a growing potential for moderate to strong winds and red flag conditions.''

Coastal areas, which were seeing temperatures in the low 70s on Wednesday, could hit the 80s by Thursday, according to the NWS.

Photo: Getty Images

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