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Santa Ana Winds Add High Fire Danger to SoCal's Dry and Warm Forecast

Santa Ana winds will pick up Thursday when a fire weather warning goes into effect for most of Southern California and continues into Friday.

A red flag warning will be in effect from 4 p.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Friday for a widespread part of Southern California due to the winds, combined with above-normal temperatures and dry conditions.

The warning area includes the  Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Los Angeles County mountains, Angeles National Forest and the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys. A separate red flag warning will also be in place during the same hours in inland Orange County and the Santa Ana mountains.

Large swaths of Riverside and San Bernardino counties also will see increased fire danger. 

Temperatures will be in the 70s and even 80s in some areas. Mountain highs will reach the 60s. Riverside might break a record high with temperatures climbing into the mid-80s.

“The winds and the temperatures, they’re going to hand in hand,” said NBC4 forecaster Belen De Leon. “Those down-sloping Santa Ana winds, they warm the air and compress it.”

If a fire starts during red flag conditions, it can rapidly spread when flames are fanned by strong and, sometimes, shifting winds. Rainfall has been scare during what’s usually the wettest time of the year, leaving SoCal with hillsides covered in dry brush.

Winds began building Wednesday afternoon in some areas, most notably in the western San Fernando Valley, where gusts of 35 to 45 mph were reported.  A high pressure system was building and advancing into the area, and that will bring warm and dry conditions, pushing humidity levels down starting Thursday afternoon, possibly into the 5 to 10% range.

North to northeast winds will form over Los Angeles and Ventura counties on Thursday and continue through Friday. Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph are anticipated across much of the area.

Winds are expected to die down Saturday night through Sunday, but they’ll pick up again Monday through Tuesday or Wednesday.

Coastal areas, which were seeing temperatures in the low 70s on Wednesday, could hit the 80s by Thursday.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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