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40-mph Santa Ana winds expected to hit L.A. area Friday

January 11, 2012 |  5:26 pm

Santa Ana winds blowing about 40 mph are expected to hit the Los Angeles area beginning Friday, heightening the potential for brush fires, the National Weather Service said.

The agency issued a fire weather watch for Friday morning through the afternoon because of expected dry winds and low relative humidity. The strongest winds are forecast for mountain areas in Los Angeles County.

"There will be the potential for gusts over 40 mph," the Weather Service said in a statement.

Minimum relative humidity will range from 8% to 15%, the agency said, and temperatures Friday are expected to top out between 72 and 80 degrees.

Light offshore winds are forecast to begin Thursday and grow in strength as they warm up the region. The winds are expected to die down Saturday, but some areas will still experience low relative humidities, according to the Weather Service.

The brush fire potential was illustrated Monday in Rancho Palos Verdes, where about 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and three-water-dropping helicopters battled a nighttime blaze that burned in dry brush. The winds were light, however, which aided fire crews in their efforts to beat back the flames.

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-- Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

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