Potentially powerful winds combined with dry weather are raising the threat of wildfires in Southern California, with red flag warnings currently in effect throughout the region.
State firefighters say they are preparing for “potential extreme fire weather” this weekend and into early next week.
Strong Santa Ana winds are sweeping through Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties along with conditions of low humidity and the “potential for rapid fire spread,” according to the National Weather Service for the L.A. region.
Red Flag Warnings in effect for LA/Ventura counties Sunday night through Tuesday evening due to strong #SantaAnaWinds, very low humidities, and dry fuels. Potential for very rapid fire spread and extreme fire behavior which could threaten life and property. #LAWeather #cawx pic.twitter.com/vlikWksAA4
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 14, 2018
The expected shift comes after the region was lashed by thunderstorms, lightning and rain on Friday and Saturday.
At 1245 am, lightning activity diminishing across LA and Ventura counties, but still seeing some moderate rain showers. Heavier rain and thunderstorms to our east. #LArain #LAWeather #cawx pic.twitter.com/d5CxnLkHAS
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 13, 2018
Weather Service meteorologist Keily Delerme said Saturday that increased fire risk in Southern California will run late Sunday into Tuesday.
Wind gusts in the mountains could reach 60 mph, and up to 50 mph in valleys and coastal areas. The humidity could dip as low as 5 percent, forecasters said.
With strong gusts expected, forecasters have warned of the potential for downed power lines and trees in some areas.
In Orange County, wetting rains are expected to lessen the threat of fires although, if ignited, the blazes could still spread quickly, forecasters said.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has issued warnings for increased fire risk across a swath of northern California on Sunday and Monday.
State firefighters are adding additional staff.