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Anticipated Santa Ana winds prompt another red flag warning of fire danger

Gusting Santa Ana winds and dangerously dry conditions are expected to return to the region on Thanksgiving, prompting forecasters to issue a red flag warning of critical fire danger that will continue into Friday.

The red flag warning will be in effect from 4 a.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday for San Diego County mountains and inland valleys.

According to the National Weather Service, the forecast calls for east winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts reaching 40 to 50 mph, along with some isolated gusts as high as 60 mph in "wind-favored" locations.

windsock red flag
Alexander Nguyen
A windsock billowing in the wind in Jamul, Calif., Nov. 22, 2021.

NWS meteorologist Alex Tardy said conditions are ripe for fire, especially in the foothills and the backcountry.

“It hasn’t rained for almost four weeks. So what makes this particular Santa Ana wind different is that it’s back to as if it’s late September in terms of how dry it is in the backcountry," Tardy said.

Humidity levels, meanwhile, will fall to between 5% and 10% Thursday, then hover around 10% on Friday.

SDG&E spokesperson Denice Menard said the utility's team of meteorologists is monitoring the situation around the clock and will only shut off power as a last resort.

Menard urged people in fire-prone areas to be prepared. She said having a solar-powered phone charger is important, as is a to-go bag with items like medication, eyeglasses, a mask and anything else you cannot be without if you have to leave your house.

"Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly," according to the NWS. "Outdoor burning is not recommended."

The winds are expected to diminish by the weekend, along with a "gradual recovery in humidity," forecasters said.

Updated: November 23, 2021 at 4:53 PM PST