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Strongest Santa Ana of the Season Brings a Threat of Wildfires

Some winds are gusting up to 80 mph as humidity drops.

Fierce winds gusting at times at more than 80 miles per hour lashed at the Southland Friday amid exceedingly low humidity levels, raising fears of wildfire.

The National Weater Service (NWS) said 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.

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 NWS is calling "the strongest and most widespread Santa Ana event so far this season" produced gusts Friday 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 Friday 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.

The NWS forecast highs Friday of 67 on Mount Wilson; 71 in Lancaster; 72 in Palmdale; 78 in Saugus; 82 at LAX; 83 in Avalon; 84 in Pasadena; 85 in San Gabriel and Burbank; 86 in Woodland Hills; 88 in downtown L.A., Newport Beach and Long Beach; and 90 in Anaheim. Temperatures will be a couple of degrees higher Saturday but start climbing down Sunday.

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