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Soaring temperatures meet gusty winds in SoCal, elevating fire risk

Hector Avila, 6, reaches for a kite
Hector Avila, 6, reaches for a kite while enjoying a windy day with his family at Anaverde Park in Palmdale.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Fierce winds, soaring temperatures and low humidity throughout Southern California are elevating fire risk throughout Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind advisories are in place until 3 p.m. for the coast of L.A. County, with the mountains and valleys expected to see the strongest winds, according to David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Oxnard station.

Gusts in the L.A. County mountains are predicted to blow up to 55 mph, with isolated gusts up to 65 mph. Santa Clarita Valley and the San Fernando Valley will see winds up to 50 mph, with isolated gusts up to 60 mph. Other impacted areas include downtown L.A., the San Gabriel Valley and Santa Monica Mountains.

A wind advisory is also in place until noon for Orange County inland areas.

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Those fierce winds arrive as the mercury is beginning to rise. Temperatures in the valleys are expected to hit the mid-80s on Wednesday, with even warmer temperatures the following day. Readings could hit 90 in the valleys on Thursday. Humidity will sit at a bone-dry 10% or lower.

All these factors, “of course increases our fire danger,” Sweet said.

The National Weather Service stopped short of issuing a red flag warning because the fuels, such as grass and leaves, are dry but not excessively dry. In spring, when plants grow, “there’s a little bit of ‘green up,’” Sweet said. A red flag warning denotes critical fire danger.

Winds are expected to die down by late afternoon on Wednesday, diminishing the fire danger for the following day.

Temperatures are expected to cool somewhat on Friday and into the weekend, with a slight chance of rain on Monday, Sweet said.

A drizzle likely won’t make a dent in what’s been a parched rainy season. Typically, downtown Los Angeles sees just over 13 inches of rain by this time, with the measurement kicking off on Oct. 1. This year, there’s been only 5.8 inches.

“It’s not a good sign,” said Sweet, talking about the potential for fire risk throughout the year.

Last year, California saw its largest and most destructive fire season to date, with more than 4.2 millions acres burned.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he was setting aside more than $80 million in emergency funding for firefighting in preparation for this year’s fire season.


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