Strong Santa Ana winds swirled around areas of Southern California Wednesday as low humidity levels raised the risk of wildfires in much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, National Weather Service forecasters warned.
A red flag warning denoting the danger of wildfires went into effect at 5 a.m. and was scheduled to remain in force through Thursday evening. Late Tuesday, Glendale firefighters backed by fire crews from Pasadena and Los Angeles County knocked down a small brush fire in the Scholl Canyon area.
In the northeast San Fernando Valley, winds knocked down a tree in the 11600 block of Goleta Street in Lake View Terrace. The tree narrowly missed a boat and cars, but no damage was reported. The tree was blocking part of the street, preventing some residents from leaving homes in a cul-de-sac.
The "moderate to strong" Santa Ana winds developed rapidly before sunrise and humidity levels slipped into the low teens and single digits, between 7 and 15 percent, according to an NWS statement. Winds were expected to decrease Wednesday afternoon before picking up again overnight through Thursday morning.
A small craft advisory was issued for Los Angeles County early Wednesday and expired at 3 p.m.
Low humidity levels will persist Friday.
The red flag warning was specifically issued for the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Angeles National Forest in L.A. County and the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County. It was scheduled to last from 5 a.m. today until 8 p.m. Thursday.
Northeast winds will blow in mountain areas at sustained speeds of 25-40 miles per hour, gusting at 60 mph and greater, according to the NWS. The strongest winds will blow through the 5 Freeway north of Los Angeles and along the 14 Freeway.
The possibility of wind gusts near 60 mph prompted a high wind warning for the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains. The warning is scheduled to remain in force until 3 p.m. Thursday. A less serious wind advisory will be in effect until 3 p.m. Thursday in the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys and the so called Los Angeles Coastal Zone, which includes L.A. County beach cities, metropolitan L.A. and the Hollywood Hills.
The wind in areas subject to a wind advisory will be weaker than in the mountains, blowing at between 20 and 30 mph with 45-mph gusts, forecasters said. The winds could make driving challenging, especially in high profile vehicles, forecasters warned.
Forecasters blamed the wind event on a "strong northwesterly pressure gradient" in the region resulting from surface high pressure over Nevada.
The NWS forecast sunny skies today and highs of 68 on Mount Wilson; 71 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 72 in San Clemente; 77 in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach; 74 in Avalon; 79 in Saugus; 81 at LAX and in San Gabriel; 82 in downtown L.A., Pasadena, Burbank and Mission Viejo; 83 in Woodland Hills; 84 in Long Beach and Yorba Linda; 85 in Irvine; 86 in Anaheim; 87 in Fullerton.