By City News Service
A red flag warning denoting a high wildfire risk because of high winds, low humidity and bone-dry vegetation was in effect in the Greater Los Angeles area Thursday for the fourth straight day -- another day of summerlike temperatures.
The red flag warning was to have expired Wednesday night, but the National Weather Service decided to extend it until 3 p.m. Friday, in part because the winds were persisting and the humidity level was not expected to rise above 20 percent today away from the coast.
"With such conditions and historically dry fuels, red flag warnings have now been extended through Friday afternoon," a National Weather Service statement said.
Also extended -- until noon Friday -- was a wind advisory, with NWS meteorologists saying strong and gusty offshore winds are expected though this morning before a slight lull this afternoon. The red flag warning applies to the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains, the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, the Los Angeles coastal zone -- that zone comprises beachside cities, the Westside, metropolitan L.A., downtown, and the Hollywood Hills -- and the mountain, forest and valley regions of Ventura County.
The wind advisory will be in force in mostly the same areas, but not the San Gabriel Valley.
In Orange County, the red flag warning will be in force until 6 p.m. today and the wind advisory until 2 p.m.
In L.A. County, winds of between 20-30 miles per hour gusting to 50 mph were expected in the mountains, 15-35 mph with 40-mph gusts in the Santa Clarita Valley, 15-30 mph with 40-mph gusts in the San Fernando Valley, and 15- 25 mph with 35-mph gusts in the Los Angeles coastal zone.
"Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for drivers of high-profile vehicles," said the NWS statement. "A wind advisory means that winds of 35 mph or greater are expected. Use extra caution when driving, and be prepared for sudden gusty cross winds."
As has been the case throughout this week, the winds could turn out to be challenging for motorists on Interstate 5, Pearblossom Highway (state Route 138) near Gorman, Topanga Canyon Road, Malibu Canyon Road, Kanan Road, and the Antelope Valley (14), Ventura (101), Simi Valley (118), Foothill (210) and San Diego 405 freeways, forecasters said.
Temperatures, meanwhile, continued to run above normal -- nearly 20 degrees above normal in some areas. The NWS forecast highs today of 69 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 70 on Mount Wilson; 75 in Avalon; 79 in Saugus; 80 in Newport Beach; 83 at LAX; 85 in Woodland Hills; 86 in Pasadena and downtown L.A.; 87 in San Gabriel; 88 in Burbank; and 89 in Anaheim and Long Beach.
A record high for a January 15 was set Wednesday in Burbank -- 86 Fahrenheit -- while the record high of 85 set in downtown L.A in 2009 was tied, according to the NWS.