Wild Santa Ana Winds Prompt Wildfire Concerns
UPDATE: Saturday 10:10 p.m.: Red Flag warnings set to expire at midnight in Los Angeles and Orange County have been extended to 9 a.m. and noon, respectively. Additionally, a warning for Riverside County has also been extended to noon Sunday.
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A new round of Santa Ana winds is whipping across Southern California and pushing the danger of a wildfire into the red zone Saturday.
The National Weather Service issued high wind warnings, meaning residents could expect gusts of 39 mph or more. Those advisories are set to expire at 3 p.m.
Damaging winds out of the northeast could reach up to 60 mph or more, according to the NWS. Sustained winds should be in the 15-25 mph range.
Around the metro area, a lower-level wind advisory will be in place until 3 p.m. Gusts up to about 45 mph are possible, especially below passes and canyons.
A clockwise airflow around a high-pressure system over the region is responsible for the offshore winds, which are out of the north and west.
Compressional heating, caused by high-desert air sweeping over the mountains and falling into the Los Angeles Basin, also dries out the air, making conditions ripe for a wildfire to spread quickly.
The NWS issued a red flag warning for Saturday, saying the relative humidity could dip as low as 5 percent at times.
The winds should start to diminish late in the afternoon.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)