Santa Ana Winds, red flag warning back for Thanksgiving

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – High winds in Santa Ana and dry conditions are expected across Southland today, prompting forecasters to issue a red flag warning of critical forest fire conditions, with a reminder to residents of certain areas to be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

The warning went into effect at 10 p.m. Wednesday and will continue until 6 p.m. today in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, Los Angeles County Mountains, Angeles National Forest, Coastal Zone extending to downtown Los Angeles and the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys.

“Northeasterly winds will increase just after sunrise Wednesday, then peak late Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning,” the National Weather Service said.

“ The winds will gradually weaken until Saturday but will sometimes remain gusty. Maximum wind gusts between 35 and 55 mph are expected, with isolated gusts between 60 and 70 mph. ”

Strong wind advisories are in place until 3 p.m. today in the mountains of Los Angeles County, the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area and the Santa Clarita Valley, in the San Fernando Valley, and in the San Gabriel Valley and the Coastal Zone, including downtown Los Angeles.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 77 mph at Deer Creek Canyon at 1:50 a.m., 76 mph at Boney Mountain, 73 mph at Escondido Canyon, 71 mph at Malibu Hills, and 67 mph at Burbank.

Forecasters have said humidity levels will drop this afternoon, falling to 5%, creating dry conditions that can dramatically increase the risk of dangerous forest fires.

“The combination (of) gusty winds and very low relative humidity over a sufficient period of time will create red flag conditions for most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, mainly from Wednesday to Thanksgiving,” according to the NWS.

“Although the winds are weaker on Friday, the very low humidity levels combined with occasional gusty northeast winds will maintain these critical conditions until Friday afternoon. ”

In Orange County, a red flag warning will be in effect until 6 p.m. Friday for interior areas. Forecasters said those areas could see gusts of 40 to 50 mph, sometimes reaching 60 mph in mountain canyons. Humidity levels, meanwhile, could drop to around 5% today, according to the National Weather Service.

The Los Angeles County Emergency Management Office will be on high alert, officials said on Wednesday.

“These strong Santa Ana winds require that our entire community be prepared, including our world-class emergency services and our emergency management organizations which will be on high alert from today,” said said OEM director Kevin McGowan.

“Emergency response officials across Los Angeles County will stand ready to defend lives and property,” McGowan said. “But, we also need the collaboration of our entire community to stay safe as a region. You can do your part by staying informed and being prepared to evacuate at all times, especially if you live in canyon, mountain or buttress communities. ”

Residents were encouraged to keep the following emergency preparedness tips in mind:

– Keep cell phone and other devices charged with the ringer turned on so you can receive and hear emergency alerts all night long. Have working flashlights for all family members ready and on hand.

– Prepare your family, pets and home for the possibility of having to evacuate. Park your vehicle facing the street so you don’t have to back up, and in the driveway, to avoid getting stuck behind an electric garage door.

– Sign up for emergency notification systems. Identify the system your local law enforcement agency uses for your neighborhood, workplace, and other places you or family members frequent. Watch local TV news and have a battery-powered radio handy so you can access the news in the event of a power outage.

For more preparation tips, visit ready.lacounty.gov, follow @ReadyLACounty, or call 211 to request resources and information.

As is often the case during major wind events, Southern California Edison warned that the utility could impose public safety power cuts, cutting off electricity in particularly windy areas to reduce the risk of forest fires started by wind-damaged power lines.

Residents can visit the SCE website at www.sce.com/wildfire/psps to see if their area is under investigation for potential power outages.

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