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Extreme fire danger for southern California; warnings issued

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Increasingly strong Santa Ana winds are predicted for southern California on Wednesday, prompting the National Weather Service to upgrade a fire weather watch statement to full warning status.

Ongoing, persistent and extremely dry conditions combined with a developing weather pattern will create dangerously favorable conditions for brush/wildfires and extreme caution is urged especially outdoors and in windy areas.

While the Southland's windy season is nearing its end, the potential for strong, potentially damaging, dry Santa Ana winds generally continues into late April.

Developing high pressure over the western interior combined with an upper level disturbance will increase both surface and upper level winds for a time on Wednesday. Mountain ridges, canyons and passes will be particularly vulnerable to strong gusts, expected to reach 50 or 60 mph at times.

The usual windy locations, ie; parts of the San Fernando, San Gabriel and San Bernardino inland valley areas especially in the vicinity of Cajon Pass, will be particularly susceptible to high fire danger. Winds in these areas are expected to be in the 30 to 45 mph range with higher gusts. Also affected and included in the warning are parts of Ventura, Santa Barbara and inland San Luis Obispo counties.

High temperatures expected be near 80 degrees and single digit humidities will accentuate the problem.

Presently, Orange County is not included in the warning, but is currently under a wind advisory. The strongest winds are expected during the day on Wednesday, as surface pressure gradients tighten.

Red flag fire warnings will also be in effect for Colorado River Valley areas of both southern California and southern Nevada and parts of far western Arizona.

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