Warm weather increases chances of wildfires in the Southland

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Firefighters battle a wind-driven brush fire in Simi Valley, Calif. on Dec. 25, 2013. Strong Santa Ana winds spread the fire quickly, however, firefighters gained the upper hand in several hours after an all out assault using water dropping helicopters, engines, and hand crews. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)

Firefighters battle a wind-driven brush fire in Simi Valley, Calif. on Dec. 25, 2013. Strong Santa Ana winds spread the fire quickly, however, firefighters gained the upper hand in several hours after an all out assault using water dropping helicopters, engines, and hand crews. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Strong winds blew across the Southland today as temperatures rose and humidity levels tumbled, creating a threat of wildfires.

A red flag warning denoting a high risk of wildfire was originally expected to expire at 6 p.m. across much of the Southland, but the National Weather Service extended the warning until 10 a.m. Friday.

The warning will be in effect in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County mountains, Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys and what the NWS calls the Los Angeles County Coast, which includes beach-side communities, the Westside, the Hollywood Hills, downtown L.A. and the rest of metropolitan Los Angeles.

“Moderate Santa Ana winds will continue across the typical wind-prone locations of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through this evening, gradually diminishing overnight into Friday,” according to the NWS. Wind gusts between 35 and 45 mph will be common across the mountains through this evening, with gusts in the 25 to 35 mph range across coastal and valley areas.

“These northeast winds will continue to reinforce warm and very dry air across the region. The gusty northeast winds combined with widespread single- digit humidities and very dry fuels will result in critical fire weather conditions across much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through early Friday morning, resulting in the extension of the red flag warnings.”

Forecasters noted that offshore winds were expected to diminish dramatically by Friday afternoon, but warm and dry conditions were expected to continue.

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