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Fire danger heightened across Southern California

November 4, 2012 |  7:45 am

Weather Story (click the image for a higher resolution image).

Red-flag warnings have been issued for parts of Southern California for the next two days.

Much of the region, including as far south as San Diego County, is under a fire watch, said Scott Sukup, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard. 

“It’s going to be pretty breezy," Sukup said, predicting winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. "It’s also going to be very dry because we have these offshore Santa Ana winds.”

He said that in the Los Angeles County area, these conditions could persist through Monday. Robert Balfour, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service in San Diego, said his office could issue a red-flag warning for mountain and foothill areas in San Diego, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties starting at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Criteria for a red-flag warning includes winds of about 25 mph with gusts of more than 35 mph and a relative humidity of under 15%, he said. Both of those conditions are expected to be met in areas that include the San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests, Balfour said, though lower valleys and coastal areas should be spared because they’ve benefited from a recent marine layer.

“It’s quite dry in the mountains as far as the fuels are concerned. They are in critical condition,” Balfour said. “The relative humidity right now in the mountains is already below 15%, but we don’t have the winds blowing yet.”


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-- Hector Becerra