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Be Careful with that Cigarette Butt: Winds Drive Fears of Wildfires

A fire weather watch, indicating that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur, was issued by the National Weather Service

It's fire weather in Los Angeles County. Patch file photo.
It's fire weather in Los Angeles County. Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 10:10 a.m. March 11, 2014. Edited to add more information. 

Powerful winds blew across the Southland amid low humidity today, raising fears of wildfires through Thursday.

National Weather Service forecasters initially issued a fire weather watch for Wednesday, but the watch was boosted to a red flag warning indicating critical weather conditions will be in place for much of the day tomorrow.

"A trough of low pressure near Idaho is expected to drop south into Eastern California by Wednesday," according to an NWS advisory. "This will bring moderate to strong offshore flow through Thursday, peaking on Wednesday and focusing over Los Angeles and Ventura counties, as well as interior San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties."

Forecasters said the system will bring winds of around 40 mph, with gusts up to 65 mph in the windiest locations.

"While humidities will increase some tonight, especially in the mountains, they will gradually lower to below 15 percent through the day on Wednesday, first near the coast early Wednesday morning then up through the higher elevations in the afternoon," according to the NWS. "Despite the initially higher humidities, the strong wind potential will bring a potential for extreme fire behavior if a fire started."

Forecasters noted that today and Thursday will also be "periods of high fire weather concern," with red flag conditions possible.

The red flag warning will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday for the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Los Angeles County mountains, Angeles National Forest and the Santa Clarita, San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys. It will also affect the Los Angeles County coastal zone, which includes beachside cities, L.A.'s Westside, metropolitan Los Angeles, downtown, and the Hollywood Hills.

Also issued by the NWS was a wind advisory that will be in force until 10 p.m. today in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains. Forecasters warned that the wind would pack enough punch to knock down trees and power lines.

A high wind warning will take effect at 10 p.m. in many areas and continue until 3 p.m. Wednesday. Forecasters said gusts as high as 70 mph are possible on some peaks and ridges and through passes and canyons.

The wind could make driving difficult, particularly for high-profile vehicles through the Interstate 5 corridor in the San Gabriels, the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway, Highway 33 in Ventura County and, in the Santa Monicas, Kanan Road, Topanga Canyon Road and Malibu Canyon Road, warned an NWS advisory.

The NWS forecast partly cloudy skies today but sunny skies Wednesday, when temperatures will climb a few degrees in most communities. It forecast highs of 63 today, 59 Wednesday on  Mount Wilson; 65 today, 68 Wednesday in Avalon; 68 today, 67 Wednesday in Palmdale and Lancaster; 71 today, 73 Wednesday in Newport Beach; 71 today, 77 Wednesday at LAX; 76 today, 81 Wednesday in Long Beach; 77 today, 79 Wednesday in Saugus; 77 today, 80 Wednesday in San Gabriel; 77 today, 81 Wednesday in Pasadena; 78 today, 77 Wednesday in Anaheim; 78 today, 83 Wednesday in Burbank; 78 today, 81 Wednesday in downtown L.A; and 81 today, 84 Wednesday in Woodland Hills.

--City News Service


Lorelei Shark March 12, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Similar to a no fires ban during days of heat and high wind, Malibu ought to institute a no smoking outside or in the car ban. This would help.

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