Warm weather, Santa Ana winds will return to the Southland this week

Santa Ana winds will make a return to the Southland this week, bringing the region a taste of warm winter weather but also raising the risk of wildfires with gusty and dry conditions.

Winds began building Wednesday afternoon in some areas, most notably in the western San Fernando Valley, where gusts of 35 to 45 mph were reported, according to the National Weather Service. A high pressure system was building and advancing into the area, and forecasters said it will bring warm and dry conditions, pushing humidity levels down starting Thursday afternoon, possibly into the 5 to 10% range.

The dry conditions are expected to continue into at least Saturday.

“North to northeast winds will form over Los Angeles and Ventura counties on Thursday and continue through Friday, with dry air descending over the region starting late Thursday afternoon or night,” according to the NWS. “Along with persistently dry fuels, this combination of wind and humidity will result in critical fire weather conditions over the valleys and mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon, with a chance of needing to be extended into Saturday. There is also a chance that the coastal areas will need to be added.”

A red flag warning of critical fire danger conditions will be in effect from 4 p.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Friday for the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Los Angeles County mountains, Angeles National Forest and the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys. A separate red flag warning will also be in place during the same hours in inland Orange County and the Santa Ana mountains.

Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph are anticipated across much of the affected areas, according to the NWS.

Forecasters said winds are expected to die down Saturday night through Sunday, but they’ll pick up again Monday through Tuesday or Wednesday, “with a growing potential for moderate to strong winds and red flag conditions.”

Coastal areas including Long Beach, which were seeing temperatures in the low 70s on Wednesday, could hit the 80s by Thursday, according to the NWS.

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