LOS ANGELES -- A tail of smoke and ash extends from Kagel Canyon west and south all the way to Malibu and then out to sea today, as Southern California copes with a Red Flag Warning and a 750-acre brushfire at the northeast end of the San Fernando Valley.

A wind gust of 51 miles per hour was clocked between 6:30 and 9:30 a.m. at a measuring station in the mountains about 10 miles north of Pacoima. The National Weather Service put the red flag up over the San Gabriel, San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys early today, as winds grew.

Fire weather conditions are expected to worsen during the day and Monday, as a large high pressure system is building over Nevada and the Four Corners region.

The Weather Service said humidity readings in the area are still high, but will drop tonight as desert air blows towards the ocean, and as that air mass compresses as it is squeezed through mountains and canyons.

Offshore winds are expected to diminish somewhat by Tuesday afternoon, but critically low humidities will be possible through Tuesday evening.

Mountain areas will see gusts of 60 miles per hour, and coastal canyon winds should top out at 45 mph as the day progresses, the Weather Service warned.

Residents of a broad swath of the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles awoke to the smell of smoke and the sight of ash today, as well.

The City of Los Angeles had not, as of 8:30 a.m., activated parking bans in red flag zones in the Hollywood Hills.

Earlier this week, Red Flag conditions prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to direct state agencies to step up their preparations for possible blazes in Southern California.

"Given the Santa Ana winds forecast, Southern California residents should rest assured that the state is monitoring weather conditions closely and working with firefighters and local officials to ensure that we are all prepared for potential wildfires," Schwarzenegger said.