Strong offshore winds, low relative humidity and above-normal temperatures prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag wildfire warning through Thursday night, National Weather Service meteorologists said.
Christmas dawned calm and bright, with downtown temperatures by noon
around 80 degrees but, owing in part to today being among the shortest of the
year, they apparently topped out by 2 p.m. at 81 degrees -- shy of the record
of 85 for the date, set in 1980.
A red flag warning denoting a high risk of wildfire was in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, and what the NWS calls the Los Angeles County Coast, which includes beachside communities, the Westside, the Hollywood Hills, downtown L.A. and the rest of metropolitan Los Angeles.
In the same areas, a wind advisory reflecting an expectation of 35-mph winds was scheduled to be in force until 4 p.m.
NWS forecasters predicted winds of between 15 and 25 miles per hour with 40-mph gusts -- 50 mph in some places -- as humidity levels drop to between 5 and 15 percent. Additionally, temperatures were above normal today, with highs in the 80s expected in some valley areas.
"If fire ignition occurs, there would be the potential for rapid
wildfire spread that could threaten life and property," according to an NWS
The relatively balmy Southland weather contrasts with bitter cold conditions across much of the Midwest and New England, where utility crews are scrambling to restore electrical service to hundreds of thousands of homes.