Fire danger sign
A fire danger warning in Southern California. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Gusting Santa Ana winds pounded parts of the Southland Wednesday, combining with low humidity levels to prompt red flag warnings of critical fire danger that will be in effect throughout the day across much of the region.

While the red flag warning will be in effect until 7 p.m. Wednesday, forecasters noted that winds began dying down by early afternoon, prompting the National Weather Service to downgrade previously issued high wind warnings to less severe wind advisories.

Wind warnings were downgraded in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, along with the Malibu Coast and the Santa Monica Mountains. Wind advisories will remain in place until 7 p.m. in those areas, with forecasters saying winds ranging from 20 to 30 mph are still possible, with occasional gusts of up to 50 mph.

A wind advisory that had been in effect in the San Gabriel Valley was canceled altogether at 2 p.m., although forecasters said local gusts of up to 25 mph were still possible.

A high wind warning will remain in effect until 7 p.m. in the Los Angeles County Mountains, with forecasters saying winds will still range from 30 to 45 mph, with gusts of up to 65 mph possible.

The NWS reported that a gust of 102 mph was recorded Wednesday morning near the Magic Mountain Truck Trail.

“Santa Ana winds arrived on schedule and with the expected intensity in most areas,” according to the NWS. “Gradients and winds aloft peaked earlier this morning (Wednesday) so for the most part winds should slowly be decreasing through the day, but still remain quite strong. Temperatures will warm up today with the good downsloping flow off the mountains but remain cool across the interior.

“While winds will be much weaker tonight into Thursday morning, wind advisories may still be needed for the typical Santa Ana wind corridor, which stretches from Highway 14 near Santa Clarita, through the northwestern San Fernando Valley and eastern Ventura County valleys and the Ventura County portion of the Santa Monica Mountains.”

Humidity levels were expected to fall as low as 6 to 12% Wednesday afternoon, bringing the dry conditions that can combine with gusting winds and lead to dangerous fire conditions.

Red flag warnings will be in force until 7 p.m. in the L.A. County Mountains, the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Malibu coast and the Santa Monica Mountains. The red flags also extend to much of Ventura County.

“If fire ignition occurs there could be rapid spread of wildfire that would lead to a threat to life and property,” according to the weather service.

High wind warnings will also be in effect through Wednesday night in Orange County inland areas and the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills. A wind advisory will be in effect for Orange County coastal areas.

“Damaging winds will blow down large objects such as trees and power lines,” the weather service warned. “Power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.”

“People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches,” the agency added. “If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows.”

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