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Southland drought continues; fire weather watch issued

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Update. Watch upgraded to red flag fire warning for Los Angeles area. Warning areas include L.A. metro, nearby coastal and valley locations and most of Ventura county.

Prolonged unseasonably warm and dry conditions along with expected increasing northeast, gusty Santa Ana winds have prompted the National Weather Service to issue fire weather watches for portions of Southern California beginning late today.

Included in the watch are much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and this may be further expanded and upgraded to full warning status later today as the wind event develops.

Once again, persistent high pressure driving offshore winds and accompanying low humidities are expected to arrive throughout the region by this evening, with gusts as high as 60 mph in mountain areas, and gusts to 50 mph in many coastal, valley and inland areas.

High wind warnings are in effect across the San Gabriel mountain range, with wind advisories covering much of the greater L.A. metro area and much of coastal Ventura county. A high wind watch has been issued for much of western San Bernardino and Riverside counties as well as northern Orange county.

Not only are surface pressure patterns supportive of a 24-hour wind event, but upper level winds are also in place to give added impetus to strong winds from the surface up through middle levels of the atmosphere.

The winds can be expected to persist through late Sunday, gradually diminishing Sunday evening.

Long range models hint at a possible overall significant change beginning early in January.

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