Gusty Santa Ana winds battered the Southland Wednesday amid low humidity levels and rising temperatures, creating a third straight day of fire weather.
A red flag warning denoting a high risk of wildfire was scheduled to be in force until 6 p.m. in Orange County, in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Clarita, the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, and the Los Angeles coastal zone, which includes beachside cities, the Westside, metropolitan L.A., downtown, and the Hollywood Hills.
The red flag warning was also in force in neighboring Ventura County, home to the Los Padres National Forest.
Also in force -- until noon today -- was a high wind warning in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains and a less serious wind advisory in much of the rest of Los Angeles County.
The wind was blowing at speeds of between 25 and 40 miles per hour in the mountains, gusting to up to 60 mph, while in the valleys, sustained winds and gusts of between 40 and 50 mph were expected, raising fears of downed tree limbs and power lines.
Once again, the winds could turn out to be challenging for motorists on Interstate 5, Pearblossom Highway (state Route 138) near Gorman, Topanga Canyon Road, Malibu Canyon Road, Kanan Road, and the Antelope Valley (14), Ventura (101), Simi Valley (118), Foothill (210) and San Diego 405 freeways, forecasters said.
The National Weather Service forecast sunny skies today and highs of 66 on Mount Wilson; 68 in Lancaster; 69 in Palmdale; 76 in Saugus; 80 at LAX; 81 in Avalon and Newport Beach; 84 in Woodland Hills; 85 in Pasadena; 86 in Long Beach and downtown L.A.; 87 in San Gabriel and Anaheim; and 89 in Burbank.
In contrast to today's expected high of 86, the high downtown at this time of the year is normally 68, said NWS meteorologist Andrew Rorke. A slow cooling trend is expected to start Friday.