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Dry, windy conditions bring red-flag warning

January 27, 2012 |  8:43 am

Laguna Beach

Just a few days ago, rains soaked Los Angeles County, but now gusty Santa Ana winds are blowing and ramping up the fire danger.

The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning through Saturday afternoon for mountains and valleys. Gusts of nearly 50 mph were reported Friday morning in Malibu and wind blasts of more than 80 mph raked some mountain areas.

That, combined with unseasonably warm temperatures, has raised concerns and put fire officials on guard for blazes. Although Friday is looking to be slightly cooler than Thursday, Saturday could see a slight increase in temperatures, said Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist for the weather service.

Despite the recent rains, L.A. has generally been dry. Since July, just more than 5 inches of rain have fallen in downtown L.A.

By comparison, the normal rainfall for this time of the year is nearly 7 inches, Bartling said. Last year, more than 12 inches of rain fell during the same period, she said.

“Humidities drop quite a bit with these warm winds,” said Bartling. “We’re still very dry for this time of the year.”

-- Hector Becerra

Photo: A boy takes a leap Thursday in Laguna Beach, where temperatures were in the 70s. Warm, windy weather is expected in Southern California. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times