Fierce winds gusting at times at more than 80 miles per hour lashed at the Southland today amid exceedingly low humidity levels, raising fears of wildfire.
A red flag warning denoting wildfire conditions was in force over much of the region and scheduled to expire Saturday. Additionally, red alert parking restrictions will be in effect until 8 a.m. Saturday on narrow, hilly streets in Los Angeles to ensure clear passage for fire trucks if needed.
What the National Weather Service is calling "the strongest and most widespread Santa Ana event so far this season" produced gusts this morning of 81 miles per hour at Whitaker Peak in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County, 56 mph at Camp Nine, which is also in the San Gabriels, 57 mph in the Malibu Hills, 47 mph in Saugus and 44 mph in the Topanga Hills.
"Gusty northeast winds and low humidity will bring critical fire weather conditions to lower elevation areas through Saturday afternoon," according to an NWS advisory.
"If fire ignition occurs, the combination of fire weather conditions and very dry fuels will create the potential of rapidly spreading wildfire."
Humidity levels will be lowest this afternoon and Saturday afternoon -- dropping to between 5 and 10 percent, according to the NWS.
The red flag warning was scheduled to expire at 2 p.m. Saturday in the San Gabriel, Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Angeles National Forest, and at 6 p.m. in the so-called coastal zones of Orange and L.A. counties, including downtown Los Angeles.
NWS forecasters noted that in addition to raising a risk of fire, this week's winds -- expected to blow as hard as a sustained 40 mph in some places -- pack the punch to knock down tree limbs and power poles.
The NWS forecast highs today of 86 degrees in Walnut and Diamond Bar, 85 degrees in Claremont, and 84 in La Verne.
Temperatures will be a couple of degrees higher tomorrow but start climbing down Sunday.