Fire weather and high surf impact the Southland

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High surf

(AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Powerful winds will buffet the Southland today, combining with low humidity and vast expanses of tinder-dry vegetation to create “critical fire weather conditions,” as high surf batters the coastline, imperiling swimmers, forecasters said.

Easterly winds will develop this afternoon and increase in strength this evening as high pressure builds in the Great Basin, according to a National Weather Service advisory, which said the winds would weaken Friday afternoon and evening.

A wind advisory, indicating an expectation of 45-mile-per-hour winds, will be in effect from 3 p.m. today until 8 p.m. Friday in the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, the Santa Clarita Valley and parts of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, with the NWS forecasting winds of between 20 and 30 miles per hour gusting to 45 and 55 mph.

“Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles. Use extra caution,” the advisory said.

Because of the gusty offshore winds and low humidity levels, the NWS issued a fire weather watch that will be in effect from late tonight through Friday night in much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and the mountains of Santa Barbara County.

“The combination of gusty winds, low humidities, above-normal temperatures and historically dry fuels will result in the possibility of critical fire weather conditions,” said an NWS advisory, adding that humidity levels will be at 10-20 percent, with the driest air circulating in the mountains above 3,000 feet.

Specifically, the fire weather watch, which forecasters said could be upgraded to a red flag warning, was issued for the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains in L.A and Ventura counties, the Angeles National Forest, the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, the coast, beach cities, the Westside, metropolitan Los Angeles including downtown, and the Hollywood Hills as well as Ventura County’s Los Padres National Forest,

Along the coast, high surf was expected because of a big swell generated by a strong storm system over the Central Pacific.

The surf will peak Friday but linger into Saturday night, forecasters said, adding that breakers of 10-15 feet will be common along with maximum sets of 19 feet. Possible impacts include strong rip currents, minor beach erosion and so-called sneaker waves able to sweep people into the ocean, NWS forecasters said.

“Remember! If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until you are free of the powerful current. Always swim near a lifeguard,” cautioned an NWS advisory.

A high surf advisory will be in effect from 3 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Monday along the L.A County coast, around Santa Catalina Island and in Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. In Santa Barbara County, a less serious beach hazard statement will be in force from late tonight through late Saturday night.

The NWS forecast mild temperatures under partly cloudy skies today, with highs of 63 in Newport Beach; 66 on Mount Wilson and at LAX; 68 in Long Beach, Avalon and Lancaster; 69 in Palmdale; 72 in Pasadena; 73 in San Gabriel, Saugus, Burbank and Woodland Hills; and 74 in Anaheim. Temperatures will be a little higher starting Friday, but not in the Antelope Valley.


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