LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The dreaded Santa Ana winds are returning to Southern California, and much of the region is bracing for extreme fire weather and possible preemptive power outages.

The National Weather Service are predicting “critical fire weather conditions” in much of Southern California from early Thursday through Friday afternoon due to wind gusts of 45 and 70 miles per hour and humidity bottoming out as low as 3 percent. Coupled with abundant, now-dry vegetation that sprang up after last winter’s record rainfall, forecasters are expecting extreme fire weather.

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(credit: CBS)

A red flag warning will be in effect early Thursday through 6 p.m. Friday for the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains and the Angeles National Forest, areas that could see winds of 25 to 45 mph and 70-mph gusts. The same warning will be in effect during the same time for the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, county coastal areas and downtown Los Angeles.

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A similar warning is in effect for much of Ventura County and coastal Orange County from 3 a.m. Thursday until 8 a.m. Friday.

The forecast prompted Southern California Edison to warn more than 173,000 customers they could be part of a “public safety power shutoff.”

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(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)