Environment & Science

Red flag warning issued for parts of SoCal

The Santa Ana winds, which blow through in the fall, bring high fire danger because their powerful gusts can whip flames into infernos.
The Santa Ana winds, which blow through in the fall, bring high fire danger because their powerful gusts can whip flames into infernos.
Stock photo by Garry Knight via Flickr Creative Commons

The Santa Ana winds, low humidity and warmer temperatures have increased the potential for wildfires in Southern California's mountains and valleys. 

The strongest winds are expected Thursday night and will go into Friday morning when the humidity level could drop into the single digits.

Tom Rolinski, meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service, told KPCC this combination of weather factors increases the chances of fire.

"With the continued potential for strong winds, low humidity, the fuels will be all that much drier tomorrow, so the potential is a little greater for a little more significant fire activity," he said. 

As a result, red flag warnings are in effect Thursday through Friday night in the mountains and valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. That includes the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

L.A. County Fire Inspector Randall Wright told KPCC that they are keeping an eye on the weather and are ready to move resources as needed.

"The fire department has over a hundred extra firefighters that are staffing extra engines, water tenders — which are vehicles that bring extra water to the fire — and we're doing patrols to make sure there are no [fire] starts," he said. 

But the National Weather Service says another change in the weather due in a few days should lower the fire threat. 

"There'll be a slight chance of rain for parts of the area coming late Sunday night and into Monday, there's gonna be a low pressure system moving in," Scott Sukup with the National Weather Service told KPCC. "So that should bring an end to the fire weather threat."

It's a much different story in the Antelope Valley, where sub-freezing temperatures have gripped the region for more than a week.

Carrie Hernandez, co-owner of CJ's Organic Farm in Littlerock, protects her fragile leafy crops from the cold by covering them in burlap. 

"The lettuce, the spinach, the mustard greens — they can't take it," she said. "So we cover them in that way, we hold the heat in and keep them through the whole season."


Some of her plants were damaged Wednesday night where there was a gap in the burlap covering, but Hernandez said so far the bulk of them have held up.

By January, her other crops — such as broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts — are so well adapted to the chilly weather that she can just leave them out with no cover, she said. The cold actually gives them a better flavor, she added.