National Weather Service to modify red flag warning conditions

Fire weather planners and forecasters in Oxnard plan to modify their criteria for issuing red flag warnings when it gets hot and dry in Los Angeles County - whether it's windy or not.

The changes made by the National Weather Service office in Oxnard will differ from those made by the NWS in San Diego, where humidity was deemphasized in the formula for issuing red flag warnings, said Dave Gomberg, the fire weather program manager in Oxnard.

"In San Diego they reviewed their data and determined they don't get major fires unless it's windy," Gomberg said in a telephone interview with a local wire service on Thursday.

"That is not the case up here," Gomberg said. "The Station Fire, the Day Fire, these are recent events that show we can have major fires in the Los Angeles region without the presence of significant winds."

The August-September Station fire burned about a third of the Angeles National Forest and ranks as the most destructive in Los Angeles County history.

In the next few days, Gomberg plans to clarify new criteria the NWS office in Oxnard will use for issuing red flag warnings. The Oxnard office covers the Central Coast and the Los Angeles region, while the San Diego office covers Orange and San Diego counties, as well as the Inland Empire.

In San Diego, the NWS office decided to put more emphasis on strong winds and less emphasis on low humidity.

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