Los Angeles

Strong Wind Gusts to Return, Raising Southern California's Wildfire Threat

Strong wind gusts have returned, marking the start of red flag warnings that extend into Saturday

What to Know

  • Red flag warning in effect from 8 p.m.until 10 a.m. Saturday in the San Gabriel Mountains
  • Red flag warnings also in force in Santa Clarita, San Fernando valleys, and Santa Monica Mountains from 3 a.m. Friday to Saturday morning
  • Gusts up to 45-mph are possible in the mountains

Wildfire warnings will be in effect through Saturday morning in mountain, forest and valley areas of Los Angeles County because of strong, gusty winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.

The warnings come during what has been a deadly and destructive October in California, where wildfires continue to ravage several northern communities. In Southern California, a brush fire quickly spread to an Orange County neighborhood Monday, burning houses and forcing evacuations.

As of Oct. 1, CAL FIRE reported more than 5,600 fires in California so far this year. Those fires scorched nearly 233,000 acres. During that same period last year, CAL FIRE reported 4,200 fires that burned nearly 243,600.

As of Thursday morning, there were 21 wildfires burning in California that scorched more than 191,000 acres. 

A red flag warning signifying a high risk of wildfire will be in effect from 8 p.m.until 10 a.m. Saturday in the San Gabriel Mountains and the forests that stretch over them -- the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County and Ventura County's Los Padres National Forest. North to northeast winds of between 15 and 30 miles per hour accompanied by 45-mph gusts will sweep the mountains, with the strongest likely near the Interstate 5 corridor.

Red flag warnings will also be in force in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys and the Santa Monica Mountains -- from 3 a.m. Friday until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Humidity levels in the threatened areas will dip to the low teens and single digits in the areas threatened by wildfire, according to the NWS.

By Saturday morning, the winds buffeting the region will turn to the northeast and a weak to moderate Santa Ana wind event is expected Saturday and Sunday. Very dry air will remain in place this weekend. So there will be the possibility of critical fire weather conditions across Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Off the coast, a small craft advisory will expire at 9 a.m. today, and a gale warning will be in effect from 9 this morning until 9 tonight, with winds of 15 to 25 knots gusting to 35 knots expected. A gale warning indicates winds of 34 to 47 knots are occurring or imminent.

Temperatures will rise Friday by around six degrees in many communities, by another five degrees or so on Saturday, and around five degrees more on Sunday, when the high will be 92 in Downtown L.A. and Yorba Linda and 98 in Woodland Hills. A dip of six degrees or so is expected in some communities Monday, ushering in a slow cooling trend.

The state is coming off one of its wettest winters in years, which left hillsides covered in grass and other vegetation. That grass dried out during summer and turned into tinder, providing fuel for rapidly spreading fires often pushed by strong winds. 

An increase in the number of dead and dying trees also can exacerbate the wildfire threat, Cal Fire officials said. An estimated 102 million trees have died in California due to the state's five-year dry spell and bark beetle infestation.

The agency has been urging residents to take prevention steps, such as maintaining 100 feet of defensible space Around homes and other structures. Defensible space provides a natural buffer between buildings and grass, trees, bushes, shrubs and other vegetation that can burn.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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