- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Gusty Santa Ana winds blew through mountains and valleys of Southern California again Monday, raising temperatures to levels more like summer than winter and increasing the risk of wildfires as humidity levels fell.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for fire danger across most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, while wind warnings and advisories were posted for much of the region’s other counties from the Central Coast to San Diego.

Monday was predicted to bring the strongest winds of the current Santa Anas, which brought summerlike conditions during the weekend.

Downtown Los Angeles topped out at a record 88 degrees - 20 degrees above normal for Feb. 8 and 3 degrees above the old record, the NWS said. It hit 89 degrees at Los Angeles International Airport, breaking a record there.

Unseasonable warmth also spread into Northern California. San Francisco reached the 70s on a day when 60 is normal.

On Sunday, the Santa Anas fanned a brush fire that briefly threatened homes in Ventura County near the Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo. Winds also spread fire through four large piles of compost at a waste facility in the San Bernardino County city of Fontana.

The winds were formed by a strong area of high pressure over the Great Basin that causes air to flow toward Southern California, where it heats up through compression as it flows down through canyons and passes into the Pacific Ocean. The dry air greatly lowers humidity levels, sapping vegetation of moisture and making it ready to burn.

While the El Nino ocean-warming phenomenon in the Pacific has spawned storm systems that have repeatedly brought rain to Northern California and built a snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, Southern California has had only a few significant storms this winter.

Downtown Los Angeles has recorded 4.2 inches of precipitation since the Oct. 1 start of the rain year - a deficit of nearly 3.81 inches to date.

Past El Ninos have sometimes brought extended periods of storminess that led to destructive flooding and debris flows.

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