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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 5:36 am | Fair 54º


Red Flag Warning Issued for Santa Barbara County Mountains

Fire officials on alert as gusty winds, dry conditions expected

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for Santa Barbara County’s mountain areas beginning Friday evening and lingering through Sunday.

Gusty offshore winds and very low relative humidity have prompted the red flag warning, which was issued Friday morning amid critical fire-weather conditions.

The warning takes effect at 7 p.m. Friday and expires 6 p.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Central Coast remains under a fire weather watch issued Thursday because of the uncertainty tied to whether offshore winds will surface at lower elevations, according to the weather service.

Forecasters warn that easterly Santa Ana wind gusts moving across Southern California could pick up to 40 mph, with the strongest winds expected in the area Friday night and early Saturday. 

An air quality watch was also issued Friday for the duration of the weekend because of the extremely dry conditions and winds that could result in elevated particle levels in the air throughout the county, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control, the agencies that prompted the watch.

Mountain temperatures are expected to be around 80 to the lower 90s, and humidity levels remain low after failing to make significant recoveries overnight Thursday, the service said.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department was urging residents to take appropriate precautions, including reporting any sign of smoke immediately to the local fire department by calling 9-1-1, using extreme caution when operating flame-sparking machinery, and having an evacuation plan in place, according to Capt. David Sadecki.

Along the coast, temperatures will hover in the upper 80s this weekend, with a slight cool down on Sunday when offshore winds were expected to weaken, said Scott Sukup, a weather specialist with the Nation Weather Service Oxnard office.

“That’s a good 10 degrees above normal,” Sukup said, noting that the normal high for this time of year is in the low 70s. 

More widespread cooling is expected to hit the area Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures dip back into the mid 70s, he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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