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Fire danger reaches 'critical' stage in Los Angeles

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Red flag warnings issued as Santa Ana winds return.

A continuation of drought conditions following the driest year on record along with prevailing high pressure has prompted the National Weather Service in southern California to warn of extreme fire danger this coming week.

Once again, frontal systems passing to the north have left southern California high and dry, facing another episode of high temperatures, low humidities, and gusty offshore winds.

2013 was driest year on record in Los Angeles, and the weather pattern causing these conditions remains in place with no sign of any major change.

Strong storms passing to the north brought ample rain and snow across the Pacific Northwest this weekend. Strong high pressure remains anchored just off the U.S. west coast, and once again will build inland as skies clear over Oregon and Washington beginning late Monday.

A Red Flag warning for extreme fire danger will be in effect for most of Ventura county, Los Angeles and Orange counties beginning late today (Sunday) continuing through Wednesday. In addition, a wind advisory will be upgraded to a high wind warning beginning this evening for much of Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Gusts may reach or exceed 50 to 60 mph in and near mountain passes, canyons and ridges through Wednesday morning. Winds of 30 – 45 mph may be expected in valley and inland locations also through Wednesday morning.

Upper level ridging and subsiding air aloft will bring sunny skies, warm temperatures and very low humidities, with temperatures expected to reach the mid 80's by Wednesday in coastal, valley, and inland areas of southern California. Mountain temperatures should range in the 50s, with desert daytime highs ranging mostly in the 60s. .

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