Forecasters warn of critical fire danger this week because of high winds and low humidity

Powerful winds, low humidity and landscapes left very dry from years of drought could create critical fire danger conditions in the Southland this week, starting Wednesday, forecasters said.

Gusty, northerly “sundowner” winds, with gusts up to 40 mph, are expected to begin Wednesday evening along the western edge of the Santa Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara County, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The strong winds will spread to the mountain areas in Ventura and Los Angeles counties Thursday, with gusts of 45 to 55 mph possible and humidity in the teens according to the weather service, according to the weather service.

The Interstate 5 Corridor near Santa Clarita and portions of the Antelope Valley are expected to be particularly hard-hit by the winds, Seto said. Local gusts of up to 60 mph are possible around Whitaker Peak, near Castaic.

“Once a fire gets started with those kinds of gusts, it’s terrible,” Seto said. 

Fires ignited during such wind events, forecasters said, can spread quickly and behave unpredictably. 

Forecasters have issued a fire-weather watch and wind advisories for the region through Thursday night.

More wind and fire advisories will likely be issued for this weekend, Seto said, because a round of Santa Ana winds is expected, which will also bring warmer temperatures. 

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson

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