Red Flag Fire Warnings, High Winds in LA County Forecast

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Parts of Los Angeles County, including the L.A. County Mountains, will be under a high-fire-danger “red flag warning” Wednesday, with the National Weather Service forecasting the first strong Santa Ana event of the season.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly.

“A combination of strong winds and low relative humidity can contribute to extreme fire behavior,” the NWS said Monday. “Use extreme caution with potential fire ignition sources.”

Earlier Monday, the NWS had issued a less severe fire weather watch. But the agency later upgraded its caution to the red flag level.

The red flag warning will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, though the strong winds — fueled by high pressure building into the Great Basin — are expected to kick up during the overnight hours Tuesday.

Besides the L.A. County Mountains, areas expected to be affected include the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Malibu coast and the Santa Monica Mountains. The red flags also extend to much of Ventura County.

In the L.A. County Mountains, the NWS was forecasting damaging northeast winds with gusts peaking at 55 mph, to as high as 75 mph for wind- prone areas — with the strongest winds late Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon.

Colder conditions will also bring low relative humidity numbers — in the 8 to 18 percent ranges to the L.A. County Mountains — that can be more conducive to fire conditions, the NWS said.

In the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Malibu coast and the Santa Monica Mountains, the weather service was calling for 40 to 60 mph winds, with gusts to 70 mph in the foothills, along with relative humidity levels of between 6 and 12 percent.

“If fire ignition occurs there could be rapid spread of wildfire that would lead to a threat to life and property,” according to the weather service.

Meanwhile, the NWS also issued high wind warnings for the L.A. County Mountains from 7 p.m. Tuesday through 7 p.m. Wednesday — and from 7 p.m. Tuesday through to 7 p.m. Wednesday for the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Malibu coast, the Santa Monica Mountains and much of Ventura County.

Winds in those areas will range from 25 to 45 mph, with gusts from 65 to 75 mph expected.

“Damaging winds will blow down large objects such as trees and power lines,” the weather service warned. “Power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.”

“People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches,” the agency added. “If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows.”

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