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Roaring winds, low humidity boost Southern California wildfire risk

LOS ANGELES — The risk of new wildfire outbreaks again threatened LA and Orange County Tuesday amid furious winds, very low humidity and an abundance of bone-dry vegetation.

“The combination of a strong offshore pressure gradient, strong upper-level wind support and significant cold air advection is producing the strongest Santa Ana wind event we have seen so far this season, with the most dangerous fire weather conditions we have seen since October 2019,” said an NWS statement.

On Monday after a red flag warning had been issued, two wildfires broke out in Orange County. A red flag warning signifying a high risk of wildfire remains in force until 11 p.m. Tuesday in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County amid northeast winds of 30 to 45 mph with gusts of up to 75 mph.

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It will be in force until 6 p.m. in the Santa Monica Mountains, inland Orange County and the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys amid winds of 25 to 40 mph and gusts of up to 65 mph.

The weather service tweeted Monday night that the day’s strongest wind gust had been 96 miles per hour at the Magic Mountain Truck Trail in Santa Clarita and that strong Sanra Ana winds would persist through Tuesday morning, but the wind would not be as strong as Monday.

A hard freeze warning is in effect in the Antelope Valley until 9 a.m. Tuesday. The weather service urged Antelope Valley residents to “protect tender plants from the cold.” It said that to prevent freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes, pipes should be wrapped, drained, or allowed to drip slowly. “Those that have in-ground sprinkler systems should drain them and cover above-ground pipes to protect them from freezing.”

A high wind warning will be in effect until 3 p.m. in the San Gabriel Mountains amid winds of 30 to 45 miles per hour and 65-mph gusts, with the strongest winds swirling around the Interstate 5 and Highway 14 corridors.

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

In the LA County coastal zone — beach cities, metropolitan LA, the Hollywood Hills — a less serious wind advisory that was scheduled to be in effect until Tuesday afternoon was canceled early Tuesday morning when the wind proved weaker than forecasters had expected. But the advisory remains in force until 3 p.m. in the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys.

On Monday, recorded gusts were in the range of 60 to 90 mph in the mountains and foothills, according to the NWS, which said one gust was clocked at 96 miles per hour in the San Gabriel Mountains south of Santa Clarita.

As of midday Monday, nearly 1,800 SCE customers in Los Angeles County had their power cut due to the precautionary measures, primarily in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley areas. More than 400 Orange County customers were affected.

Overall, SCE as of midday was reporting more than 14,000 Los Angeles County customers without power amid the wind event, and nearly 8,000 in Orange County. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was also responding to power outages across the city, including the Brentwood, Hollywood and Rancho Park areas.

Sunny skies were forecast in LA County Tuesday, along with highs of 61 on Mount Wilson; 71 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 72 in Santa Clarita; 73 in Avalon; 74 at LAX, San Gabriel and Burbank; 75 in Woodland Hills; 76 in Downtown LA and Pasadena; and 77 in Long Beach. Temperatures will climb starting Wednesday, settling in the low to mid-80s in several communities by Monday, although Woodland Hills will be at 90 degrees.

Most Orange County communities were forecast to have smoky skies Tuesday as a result of the fires, along with highs of 54 on Santiago Peak; 67 on Ortega Highway at 2,600 feet; 73 at Fremont Canyon; 75 at Trabuco Canyon and in San Clemente; 76 in Laguna Beach and Yorba Linda; 77 in Newport Beach; 78 in Fullerton, Mission Viejo and Anaheim; and 79 in Irvine. By sunday, inland communities will be in the low 80s, though the warmup will not proceed at the same pace in all communities.


Source: Orange County Register

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