Heat, High Winds Bring Fire Danger Back to Southern California

LOS ANGELES (CN) – An unusual spike in Southern California temperatures means summer-like weather in late January, and dry brush and high winds also bring wildfire danger to the region.

Downtown Los Angeles will reach 89 degrees Monday afternoon, about 10 degrees warmer than last year and breaking the record of 88 set in 1977. Several cities across the southland also expect record-breaking temperatures as high-pressure winds fan the hot and dry conditions.

Early Monday morning, more than 200 firefighters worked to put out a 2.6-acre wildfire in Malibu above the Pacific Coast Highway. There were no reported injuries and the cause remains under investigation.

Cpt. Keith Mora with the Los Angeles County Fire Department said extreme wind and a lack of rain mean the region is primed for wildfires.

“Malibu is not unique. Southern California as a whole is unique,” said Mora.

Mother Nature has dealt the region a one-two punch in recent months. First, the Thomas Fire cut across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties to become the largest wildfire in state history, and then torrential rain in early January led to a mudslide on the burn scar above the community of Montecito that killed 21 people. Mora said residents across California should be prepared for disasters of all varieties, including wildfire and mudslides.

Regarding Southern California’s weather, Stuart Ceto with the National Weather Service in Oxnard said, “It’s all pretty unusual for this time of year.”

An abysmal rainy season has left the area parched. Since the start of the water year on Oct. 1, downtown Los Angeles has received 1.89 inches of rain and Santa Barbara received 2.79 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. This same time last year downtown Los Angeles had recorded 14.33 inches of rain and finished the water year at 19 inches, 4.25 inches above average.

Weather data shows that a lack of rain and high temperatures could be a trend for the next 90 days, but that is based on temperature averages, said Ceto.

Summer-like conditions are likely to cool down by the end of the week for most of Southern California. Manager Stan Williams at Grom gelato shop in Malibu said business boomed over the weekend.

“We had a surprising number of people,” said Williams. “That was like a summer’s day. It’s not typical for January at all.”


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