Powerful 70 mph Santa Ana winds, bone-dry vegetation, and single digit humidity have intensified already dangerous wildfire conditions around the region, forecasters said Tuesday.
The National Weather Service issued Red Flag warnings from Tuesday at 10 p.m. to Wednesday at 6 p.m. for the mountain and valley areas of Los Angeles County and Ventura counties. Wind gusts could be as high as 60 to 70 mph in the mountains and 50 to 60 mph in the valleys, with peak gusts expected in the late evening hours.
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"This will be the strongest and most widespread Santa Ana event we have seen so far this season," an NWS advisory said.
Single digit humidity combined with a strong offshore flow and higher than normal temperatures have dramatically increased the risks of fires around the region, said NBC LA forecaster Fritz Coleman.
"We're at the end of our dry season so things are at their most combustible point," Coleman said. "The fuel moisture content—the amount of moisture in vegetation—is at its lowest point."
Among some of the areas most at risk are the San Gabriel mountains which include the fuel-rich Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County and the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County.
The recent weather patterns are making fire officials nervous as well.
"We have had a wetter summer than usual, however with the winds, it just takes us to a whole different level ," said Inspector John Quvondo Johnson of the Los Angeles County Fire department.
Johnson said the department has augmented their staffing and strategically place additional personnel and equipment resources in areas where the potential for fires are the highest.
Fire officials encouraged the public to take precautions to prevent fires including clearing an dry brush or debris from around their homes and avoid using an open flame in high winds.
Parking restrictions may take place in some locations within Los Angeles County to allow better emergency vehicle access, according to the advisory.