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Finally, some relief: Santa Ana winds weaken as fire weather warnings for L.A. area expire

The Easy fire is believed to have started Thursday near Easy Street in Simi Valley.
The Easy fire is believed to have started Thursday near Easy Street in Simi Valley.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Finally, there’s some relief: Dangerous fire weather conditions have expired in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, as Santa Ana winds were expected to continue weakening and overnight fog along the coast was expected to return by Sunday night.

The National Weather Service office in Oxnard allowed red flag warnings — which sound the alarm for strong winds, dry air and parched vegetation that can spread wildfires rapidly — to finally end at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Dangerous fire conditions had started at 11 p.m. Tuesday, causing forecasters to issue red flag warnings for L.A. and Ventura counties for 91 hours, an unusually long duration. Red flag warnings typically last only one or two days.

Gusts from Santa Ana winds, which come from the deserts of Nevada and Utah northeast of California and head southwest toward the coast starting in the autumn, are expected to fall to 20 mph to 30 mph, focused on only some mountain and interior valleys, said David Gomberg, meteorologist with the weather service’s Oxnard office.

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“The speeds are not warranted to justify the red flag warning,” he said.

Still, the weather service expected elevated fire conditions through Sunday morning and perhaps brief moments of dangerous fire weather conditions.

Humidity levels were starting to improve, although it was still dry in interior areas such as the Santa Clarita Valley.

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There’s a decent chance fog could return to the coast by Sunday night and Monday morning, Gomberg said.

There continues to be no rain on the horizon through mid-November, but also, no return of dangerous Santa Ana winds for at least four to five days, Gomberg said. At the moment, forecast models suggest some return of Santa Ana winds by Friday or Saturday, but “not nearly as strong as what we saw in the last few days.”

Some areas of L.A. and Orange counties reported brief, isolated showers Saturday as a weak low-pressure system brought up some tropical moisture, Gomberg said. There were a couple of rain-producing clouds in L.A. and Orange counties, but none in Ventura or Santa Barbara counties, he said.


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