Fire weather watch issued through Saturday for San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO - Santa Ana winds will sweep through parts of San Diego County Thursday, combining with low humidity levels and warm temperatures to create the potential for dangerous wind-driven wildfires, the National Weather Service said.

The gusty northeast winds will develop Thursday afternoon and become strong overnight into Friday, prompting the NWS to issue a fire weather watch from Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon.

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The watch, which is slightly less serious than a red flag warning, signifies that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur and covers the county mountains and valleys.

Meteorologists predict the strongest winds will occur in the in the foothills and just below mountain passes, with gusts peaking at about 35 mph, the NWS said.

Humidity levels could drop to around 15 to 20 percent during that same period in much of the county.

"Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly," NWS forecasters said.

San Diego County residents were urged to avoid outdoor burning during the fire weather watch and pay attention for the NWS to issue possible red flag warnings.

High temperatures Thursday were expected to be 82 to 87 degrees in the western valleys, 76 to 81 degrees near the foothills and 67 to 73 in the mountains.

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