Strong winds, low humidity expected to boost fire danger

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 - 11:05 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 - 7:10 pm

A red flag warning is in effect until Saturday morning in the Sacramento Valley. Residents are warned that gusty winds over the next two days could result in tree damage and power outages, forecasters said Wednesday.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced that it is increasing staffing in preparation for strong winds and low humidity forecast for five regions of the state, including Modoc and Lassen counties, the Sacramento Valley and the Bay Area.

The red flag warning will be in effect for much of the Sacramento Valley below 1,000 feet, from Glenn and Colusa counties to the Delta and Carquinez Strait. Humidity is expected to be as low as 10 percent during the day with 15 to 25 mph winds and gusts up to 45 mph.

Robert Baruffaldi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the strongest winds are expected Thursday afternoon and evening. They likely will taper off on the east side of the valley Thursday night, with strong winds continuing on the west side Friday. At their peak, winds could result in downed tree limbs and power lines.

Daytime temperatures are forecast to be relatively mild both Thursday and Friday, with highs in the upper 70s to low 80s in the Valley. Overnight lows are expected to range from the upper 40s on the east side Thursday night, as the wind begins to subside, to the mid-50s on the west side, where continuing winds will result in higher temperatures.

High winds coupled with low humidity create the conditions that often result in wildland fires during the fall.

“It’s very common this time of year to have offshore winds,” Baruffaldi said.

The rain late last month wasn’t sufficient to alleviate the fire danger, particularly in the Sacramento Valley, where grasslands quickly dry out, he said.

Cal Fire announced that firefighters are preparing for several days of extreme fire weather across the state.

“By this time of year, conditions in many areas are at their driest of the season,” Cal Fire director Chief Ken Pimlott said in a written statement. “When you add strong winds, it makes this time of year a perfect recipe for wildfires. Even though it is fall, we need the public to understand that we are still in fire season throughout much of California, and everyone must take extra precautions to avoid sparking a wildfire.”

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke

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