Red flag warnings issued for mountains and valleys as Santa Ana winds gust, humidity drops


Santa Ana winds lashed parts of Southern California again Thursday, combining with low humidity levels to create critical wildfire conditions.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning of critical fire danger that will be in effect until 6 p.m. for the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, the San Gabriel Mountains, the 5 and 14 freeway corridors, the Malibu Coast, Calabasas and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

Forecasters said mountain areas could see winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting up to 45 mph, with isolated gusts up to 60 mph possible. Other areas will likely experience winds of 15 to 25 mph, gusting to 40 mph, with isolated gusts up to 50 mph.

Humidity levels in all areas are expected to fall to between 8% to 15% during the warning period, forecasters said.

Winds were expected to have peaked by midday Thursday, followed by a gradual decrease that will continue through Friday. Forecasters noted, however, there was a slight chance that red flag conditions could linger in some of the most wind-prone areas until Friday.

“A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly,” forecasters said. “Use extreme caution with anything that can spark a wildfire. Residents near wildland interfaces should be prepared to evacuate if a wildfire breaks out.”

Most areas of Southern California will have above-normal temperatures Thursday, and while the winds are expected to die down, the warmer conditions are anticipated to last through Sunday thanks to continued offshore flow, according to the NWS. Coastal and valley areas should see high temperatures in the mid-70s to lower 80s over the weekend.

A “dramatic shift” in the weather is expected by early next week, with a possibility of rain in the area by mid-week, according to the NWS.

Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service
Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service

Meanwhile, the dry and windy conditions prompted reminders from Southern California Edison that it may employee Public Safety Power Shutoffs in some areas — cutting power in areas being impacted by winds that could damage power lines and potential spark wildfires.

As of midday Thursday, 230 SCE customers in Los Angeles County were without power due to the precautionary program — most believed to be primarily in the Malibu/Topanga Canyon area, where an early morning fire destroyed a home and burned about five acres of brush.


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