Winds knocked down power to 7,000 in the Southland. Photo courtesy of OnSceneTV
Photo courtesy of OnSceneTV

With chilly overnight temperatures giving way to dry and windy conditions, a red flag warning will be in force across much of Los Angeles County Thursday, denoting an elevated risk of wildfire.

“Gusty northeast winds and very low relative humidity over Los Angeles and Ventura counties will result in several hours of critical fire weather conditions through Friday afternoon,” according to the National Weather Service. “The strongest winds are expected this afternoon through Friday afternoon with peak gusts generally between 30 and 40 mph.”

Forecasters said humidity levels are expected to remain below 10 percent across much of the area, especially in the mountains.

“The winds are expected to weaken significantly Friday night into Saturday, but very dry conditions will persist,” according to the NWS.

The red flag warning will be in effect until 6 p.m. Friday for the Los Angeles County coastal area, which stretches into downtown Los Angeles, as well as county mountains, the Angeles National Forest, Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

With the elevated fire risk, the Los Angeles Fire Department stepped up its staffing levels and deployed resources to areas considered more in danger of wildfires.

The department moved engines from traditionally low-fire-risk areas to the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood Hills, while also augmenting staffing in Bel Air, Sylmar and West Hills.

The department also has a bulldozer team and a five-piece brush patrol strike team at the read in the San Fernando Valley, along with a pair of 2,500- gallon water tenders prepared at stations in Sun Valley and Sherman Oaks.

The dry and windy conditions are a stark change from the overnight chill that resulted in a hard freeze warning in the Antelope Valley, where temperatures lingered in the 20s.

A hard freeze warning indicates that temperatures of 28 degrees Fahrenheit or less are expected for at least two consecutive hours.

Forecasters said the cold resulted in part from a cold air mass parked over the region and warned that hard freeze conditions threaten plants and animals, which should be taken indoors — a home for pets, a barn for domestic animals — to protect them against hypothermia. Additionally, “exposed pipes should be wrapped to keep them from freezing,” an NWS statement said.

—City News Service



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