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Local News

High Winds Prompt Red Flag Warning for Fire Danger

Gusts to 60 mph are predicted, along with unseasonably warm temperatures in some areas

A red flag warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for Santa Barbara County’s South Coast and mountain areas, as gusty winds, high temperatures and low fuel moisture are combining to create serious fire danger.

The red flag warning, beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday and will continuing until 6 a.m. Thursday, means that critical fire weather conditions either are occurring or will be soon, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

High winds, with gusts to 60 mph, are expected to rake parts of the South Coast and the mountains through Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Although there may be periods of calm in the late mornings and early afternoons, blustery “sundowner” conditions are likely, especially Wednesday afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a high-wind advisory.

Santa Barbara County’s South Coast — along with the Interstate 5 corridor north of Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley — will bear the brunt of the winds, forecasters said. Winds are expected in the North County, but not as strong.

With the red flag warning, area fire agencies have increased staffing and response levels to meet the threat throughout the duration of the event, said Capt. David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Another impact of the red flag warning is the temporary closure of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The 78-acre garden in Mission Canyon, which suffered major damage in the Jesusita Fire in 2009, will reopen once the red flag warning has ended, according to a garden spokeswoman.

“We understand the potential danger of wildfires firsthand and will do everything within our power to cooperate and facilitate the smooth participation with the Fire Department and county officials during these conditions,” said the garden’s executive director, Steve Windhager in a press release. “We have the utmost concern and commitment to the health and safety of our staff, visitors, neighbors and the community at large.”

For information about the garden’s status, call 805.682.4726.

Temperatures Tuesday through Thursday should be above average, with highs near 80 on the South Coast and in the Santa Ynez Valley, and closer to 70 in Santa Maria and Lompoc.

A weak low-pressure system is expected to approach the region from the north by Friday, increasing clouds and causing a gradual cooling trend. But skies should be mostly sunny through the weekend, forecasters said.

» Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

» Click here for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Connect with the OES on Facebook.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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