Sacramento and other urban areas might be spared from the ongoing wildfires, but strong winds forecast for Saturday and Sunday come with their own threats to city dwellers.
Gusts on Saturday night through Sunday evening could reach up to 60 mph. for Northern Sacramento Valley and Central Sacramento Valley Counties, according to the National Weather Service. A warning is issued when sustained winds of 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or greater are expected.
“Strong, to potentially damaging, north to east winds will develop across much of the region,” the NWS advised. “This will likely be the strongest north wind event so far this season.”
Meanwhile, the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County could get a boost from sustained and gusty winds of up to 80 mph on Saturday and Sunday, which prompted the weather service to issue a red flag warning due to the “dangerously strong offshore winds and critically low humidity.”
Here are five things you need to be aware of as the gusts sweep in:
Get your flashlight ready
Winds of these speeds can “blow down trees and power lines,” which can knock out your lights and leave you in the dark, according to the NWS’ safety rules.
Top that with an estimated 940,000 PG&E customers whose power will be shut off by Saturday evening, and many Californians are looking at potential blackouts.
This means you’ll need a supply kit in case you find yourself in the dark. Pack some drinking water, a flashlight, extra batteries and chargers, nonperishable food and toiletries — including diapers — to hunker down with.
PG&E’s website has a full list of recommended emergency items.
Don’t forget the patio furniture
Don’t let your new patio chairs blow through the neighborhood this weekend. Not only will that help you with any potential clean up, but it will protect drivers from unsafe roads that your chair would be in the middle of.
Secure any outdoor items that are too large to bring inside, including garbage cans.
It’s also a good idea to postpone the cookout and stay indoors to avoid tree limbs breaking and debris flying through the backyard.
“In advance of any storm, be sure your property is secure,” the NWS advised. “Remove any dead trees or overhanging branches near structures, loose roofing materials and objects in yards, patios, roofs or balconies that could blow away.”
Shutter the house
Close your windows and shut the door.
If you’re not able to get inside, or are driving, find shelter or pull over to avoid fighting the wind or getting hit by debris.
If you live in an area with air quality affected by smoke from the wildfires, which you can check on the Air Now website, turn off your air conditioning as well.
“If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows,” the NWS cautions. “Use caution if you must drive.”
Check your local news
The NOAA Weather Radio dispatches weather updates round the clock, so check for any developments as the winds pick up. The National Weather Service additionally provides routine updates on Twitter and its website.
You can also monitor your local news organization, including The Sacramento Bee, for additional information.