Seeing Red Through Friday

LOS ANGELES -- A red flag warning signifying a high risk of wildfire was in effect in the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties Wednesday.

The warning was extended several times since first issued last week, and will remain in force through at least Friday evening.

But the National Weather Service downgraded the warning in several other areas, among them the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys and the coastal zone of Los Angeles, including downtown Los Angeles, the Hollywood Hills and areas immediately near the shore.

The weather service issued a critical fire weather watch, also scheduled to expire at 8 p.m. Friday, for the areas that had been under a red flag warning.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are occurring. A fire weather watch means that such conditions are forecast to occur.

The fear of wildfire steps from a combination of strong Santa Ana winds and very low humidity levels, slipping to single digits in some areas.

Overnight wind gusts were weaker than they have been this week, though still powerful, with the strongest -- 45 and 42 miles per hour -- reported, respectively, at Camp Nine and Whitaker Peak, both mountain areas of Los Angeles County, according to the NWS.


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The unseasonably warm weather accompanying the Santa Anas produced record temperatures in several communities this week.

Two heat records were set Tuesday. The high of 83 degrees at UCLA set a record for a Jan. 13, beating the 1986 high of 82, while the high of 86 in Long Beach broke the record of 84 set in 1994, according to the NWS. Several records were also set the day before.

Wednesday's highs will be a few degrees lower than Tuesday, though still unseasonably high. The NWS forecast highs Wednesday of 69 in Palmdale; 70 in Lancaster; 71 on Mount Wilson; 73 in Newhall; 80 at LAX; 82 in Avalon and Newport Beach; 83 in Long Beach; 84 in Woodland Hills; 85 in downtown L.A.; 86 in Pasadena and Burbank; 87 in Anaheim; and 89 in San Gabriel.

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