(FOX 11 / CNS) Strong offshore winds, low relative humidity and above-normal temperatures prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning for today.
The warning, signifying high wildfire danger, will be in effect from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m. Separately, the Los Angeles Fire Department could restrict parking along narrow hillside roads adjacent open area to ensure fire engines can get to any brushfires, but it has yet to do so.
Meteorologists say the unseasonably warm weather and offshore winds are the result of a big high-pressure system over the region. Adding to the fire danger is the low "live fuel moisture,'' which refers to the water content in the brush.
High temperatures today could top 80 degrees, according to the NWS.
To set a record high in downtown Los Angeles for Dec. 25, the temperature will have to exceed 80 degrees -- the record high for that date, set in 1980, NWS meteorologist Joe Sirard said.
" We have a chance to beat that,'' he said, adding that the highs in South Florida were forecast to rival those in Southern California. Highs in coastal south Texas were forecast to top out in the upper 70s.
Other area record highs for Christmas Day include 84 degrees in Woodland Hills, set in 1985; 84 degrees at UCLA, set in 1950; and 83 degrees at LAX, set in 1942.
Dry conditions should persist Thursday, but the winds should weaken, though strong gusts will still be possible below canyons and passes. Temperatures will remain well above normal, ranging from the mid 70s at the beaches to about 80 degrees inland.
Los Angeles is on the verge of a drought and on track to have its driest winter ever, with only about a quarter of seasonal average falling so far. The city averages about 15 inches of rain annually.
From July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012, the rainfall total in downtown Los Angeles was just 8.69 inches.
The Southland's balmy weather contrasts with bitter cold conditions across much of the Midwest and New England, where utility crews were scrambling to restore electrical service to hundreds of thousands of homes.