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Santa Ana Winds Kick Up, Fire Risk High

Strong gusty winds are expected to blow through valley and mountain areas in San Diego County today, raising a risk of wildfire, according to the National Weather Service.

"Warm and very dry conditions coupled with strong winds will elevate the fire danger,'' according to a NWS statement.

The Weather Service scheduled a red flag warning for both the inland valleys and mountain areas to remain in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday. A red flag warning is issued when high winds combine with low humidity and warmer temperatures to create a risk of wildfire.

"A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly,'' according to the NWS. "A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential.''

The agency also issued a high wind warning for San Diego County mountains and valleys set to remain in effect until 2 p.m. During that time, there will be east winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, gusting up to 60 mph, forecasters said.

The strongest winds are expected near ridge tops and along coastal mountain slopes. Gusts of 64 mph were reported at Sill Hill northwest of Cuyamaca overnight.

A wind advisory, which is less severe than a high wind warning, is scheduled to follow the warning and remain in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday.

"The winds will make driving difficult, especially for motorists with high profile vehicles,'' according to a NWS advisory. "Watch for broken tree limbs and power lines. Areas of blowing dust could locally reduce visibility.''

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