SAN DIEGO -- Strong Santa Ana winds are expected again in San Diego County beginning late Tuesday evening, raising the threat of wildfires through Thursday evening.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning that will be in effect from 11 p.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. Thursday for in county mountains and valleys.
The conditions -- featuring winds out of the east and northeast at 25- 35 mph, with gusts reaching 55 mph in the valleys and 75 mph near mountain ridge tops -- could be the strongest of the season so far, forecasters said. Humidity levels could drop as low as 5% on Wednesday with poor overnight recovery expected through Friday.
Wind speeds will increase around 9 p.m. Tuesday and continue increasing through Wednesday morning, NWS meteorologist Miguel Miller said. The winds will then decrease slightly Wednesday night through Thursday morning and gradually diminish through Thursday afternoon.
Any fires erupting over the period would tend to spread rapidly and be difficult to extinguish, the NWS warned.
A high wind watch will also be in effect Tuesday evening through Thursday afternoon in the county mountains and valleys. Officials warned that damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines, while travel will be especially difficult for high-profile vehicles.
High temperatures Tuesday could reach 73 degrees near the coast and inland, 73 in the western valleys, 67 in the mountains and 83 in the deserts.
San Diego Gas & Electric officials said the utility is considering precautionary power shutoffs this week. The shutoffs would be implemented to de-energize power lines in danger of being damaged or downed by strong winds, potentially sparking wildfires.
As of 2:50 p.m. Monday, nearly 33,000 customers faced potential outages, according to the utility.
If power is shut off for an extended period of time, SDG&E may open community resource centers where residents can get water and snacks, charge their phones and get up-to-date information about the outages.