Southern California

Experts Warn of Fire Risk Across SoCal Due to Santa Ana Winds

With the raging drought in the state, it could be a “nasty set of circumstances”

Weather experts have issued a red flag alert, warning Southern California residents of strong Santa Ana winds and critical fire conditions, continuing into Monday.

Wind gusts of up to 60 mph are expected to start in the mountains Sunday night and pick up in the valleys and coast, according to the National Weather Service. The winds are expected to continue at about 50 mph through Monday evening.

With the raging drought in the state, it could be a "nasty set of circumstances," said NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman.

The strong winds combine with a low level of humidity. During Sunday morning's forecast, humidity levels in the Inland Empire were already low -- falling to 6 percent in Mission Viejo.

"That's a sign that that offshore wind really drying out the region, and that's why we have that high fire danger," said NBC4 weathercaster David Bigger.

Fire departments are deploying additional firefighters in anticipation of brush fires.

"The light rain is gone, it didn't affect anything," Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Brian Johnson said of the conditions his department is facing.

While high winds are particularly expected in the San Bernardino and Santa Ana mountains and foothills, Orange County coast and Inland Empire valleys, high risks of fire extend to all parts of Southern California except the San Gabriel valley and deserts.

Experts plead people to watch out for downed powerlines and trees and strong crosswinds for large vehicles.

"It's the worst wind we've had in five years," said Chatsworth resident Denise Epstein. "We woke up to broken glass tables outside. All out furniture flew across the backyard."

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