Santa Anas Blow in Record Heat, Fire Worry to Southern California

AP Wire Service

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Santa Ana winds pumped Southern California temperatures to record highs Wednesday and authorities warned that conditions were ripe for wildfires.

The mercury in downtown Los Angeles hit 90 degrees, 18 above normal and breaking the date’s old record of 88 set in 1954, the National Weather Service said. Temperatures in the high 80s to mid-90s also set records across the region.

The Los Angeles Fire Department deployed extra resources to hillside areas and placed groups of engine companies throughout the San Fernando Valley to be ready in case of a wind-driven wildfire.

Fire weather conditions were the worst in several years, the department said in a statement, likening them to the conditions that led to the 1991fire that burned 3,000 homes and killed 25 people in the Oakland hills.

The Santa Anas, northeast winds generated by high pressure over the Great Basin, were easing by afternoon and forecasters were allowing advisories and warnings to expire.

A storm earlier this month drenched the region and boosted rainfall above normal levels for this time in November, but conditions since then have returned to extreme dryness. Despite that precipitation, Los Angeles is nearly 9 inches below normal for the year.

No wildfires occurred in Los Angeles on Wednesday, fire spokesman Bob Collis said.