Wind, Dry Lightning Forecast Heightens Threat Of Brush Fires

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Gusty winds, low humidity and the possibility of dry lightning are increasing the threat of wildfires in Southern California, forecasters said Monday.

A red flag warning will be in force until noon in the San Gabriel Mountains and its forests: the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County and the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County.

Once the red flag warning expires, a less serious fire weather watch will go into effect through Monday night because of the prospect of dry lightning – lightning strikes that occur when accompanying precipitation dissipates before hitting the ground.

The fire weather watch will apply to the San Gabriel Mountains, the Santa Monica Mountain Recreational Area, beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Santa Clarita, San Gabriel and Antelope valleys.

Along with onshore winds, which will produce 35-mile-per hour gusts, the region will experience an influx of subtropical moisture Monday afternoon and evening, according to National Weather Service forecasters. The moisture combined with a low-pressure system offshore will create a slight chance of thunderstorms through Tuesday night, with another slight chance of thunderstorms in the San Gabriels on Wednesday afternoon.

“The initial surge of mid-level moisture and instability will bring the greatest threat of isolated dry lightning with gusty erratic winds on Monday afternoon and evening,” the NWS statement said, adding that dry lightning would increase the threat of fire, in part due to the presence of “extremely dry fuels.”

“If fire ignition occurs, conditions are favorable for extreme fire behavior and rapid spread of wildfire, which would threaten life and property.”

But beginning tonight, any storm that develops should be a wet one, forecasters said.

(©2016 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

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