HEAT BOOSTS FIRE PERIL

Red-flag warn­ings are is­sued as tem­per­a­tures con­tinue to rise; gusty winds are ex­pected.

Los Angeles Times - - California - Ruben Vives ruben.vives@latimes.com

Weather fore­cast­ers have is­sued a red-flag warn­ing for the moun­tains of Los An­ge­les and Ven­tura coun­ties as a sharp warm­ing trend has pro­duced hot, dry and windy con­di­tions across the re­gion that are ex­pected to last into the early part of the week.

“It’s al­ready hot out there,” said Ryan Kit­tell of the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice. “We’re ex­pect­ing tem­per­a­tures to con­tinue to climb.”

The heat wave is ex­pected to last through Wed­nes­day, fore­cast­ers said. The hot con­di­tions on Satur­day led the Los An­ge­les Fire Depart­ment to de­ploy ad­di­tional fire­fight­ers to neigh­bor­hood sta­tions serv­ing brushy ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman.

The blis­ter­ing weather comes on the first week­end of fall, af­ter a sum­mer that was no­tably cooler than usual. It prompted the city of Los An­ge­les on Satur­day to open cool­ing cen­ters in the San Fer­nando Val­ley for res­i­dents who need re­lief.

Af­ter­noon tem­per­a­tures for Sun­day and Mon­day were ex­pected to be in the triple dig­its across in­land ar­eas. An off­shore flow is ex­pected to pro­duce gusty north­east winds through and be­low passes and canyons in Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les coun­ties. The strong­est pe­riod of wind, fore­cast­ers say, will be Satur­day night through Mon­day, with gusts reach­ing up to 30 mph.

The San Fer­nando and San Gabriel val­leys are also un­der fire weather watch, Kit­tell said. Such a watch means that crit­i­cal fire weather con­di­tions are fore­cast, while a red-flag warn­ing means weather con­di­tions are al­ready ideal for wild-land fire ig­ni­tion.

The heat wave is the re­sult of a strong ridge of high pres­sure that is build­ing over Cen­tral and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. A slight cool­ing trend will bring re­lief Wed­nes­day as the high­pres­sure sys­tem moves east­ward. Fore­cast­ers re­mind peo­ple to take pre­cau­tions to pre­vent heat-re­lated stress and ill­ness.

Bill Patzert, a cli­ma­tol­o­gist for the Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory in La Cañada-Flin­tridge, said the L.A. area hasn’t had sub­stan­tial rain­fall since the sec­ond week of April. With La Niña con­di­tions build­ing in the equa­to­rial Pa­cific, where ocean tem­per­a­tures are cooler than nor­mal, the fall and win­ter could be drier than usual, Patzert said.

“Def­i­nitely the con­di­tions are there right now for ev­ery­one to be on high fire alert,” he said, adding that the worst could be yet to come with the ar­rival of strong Santa Ana winds.

But Patzert noted that last year’s mas­sive Sta­tion fire did not oc­cur dur­ing a pe­riod of heavy winds.

“So you don’t re­ally need strong winds for a strong fire,” he said.

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